Abta chief Mark Tanzer welcomed the end of quarantine restrictions to most popular destinations but warned lack of consumer confidence could prevent “a rapid bounce-back”.

Tanzer said: “We’re heading in the right direction, but it’s a very uncertain future. There is an issue of consumer confidence. I don’t think it’s just to do with quarantine. There is wariness about travel within the UK, let alone overseas, and the industry needs to recognise that.

“You see countries where Covid had died down and comes back, and that will create nervousness. That is probably the biggest uncertainty.

“There seems a lot of pent-up demand for travel. You saw how people were desperate to get out when we had some good weather. The demand is there, but I don’t think it will be a rapid bounce-back.”

Speaking on a Travel Weekly Roadmap to Recovery webcast, the Abta chief executive hailed the relaxation of restrictions as “a very welcome step into the recovery phase for the industry”, adding: “We’re anxious to see the market open up.”

But he warned: “This is a moving target. If our infection rates go up, you could see countries putting restrictions on us.”

Tanzer insisted: “The way quarantine was introduced wasn’t ideal. [But] the biggest impediment has been the FCO advice against all but essential travel. Quarantine probably hasn’t had as big an impact.”

He said Abta had “been in close discussion with various government departments” to encourage a move away from blanket advice to “more of a risk-based approach” and expressed “a certain sympathy” for the government following its delay in publishing the list of countries exempt from UK restrictions.

Tanzer said: “It’s complicated and the data is moving. But behind the scenes there has been a lot of work measuring countries, not just on their infection rate but what public health facilities they have. Countries will come on to the green list. Countries could move off it. This is part of how we’re going to have to manage travel.”

However, he said: “If we can keep the travel corridors open we can have a summer season.”