The managing director of Travel Counsellors has called for Covid-19 testing at airports instead of blanket quarantine restrictions on entire countries.

Kirsten Hughes said testing would give customers more choice when deciding if they want to travel overseas this summer.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, she said: “Instead of blanket quarantine, let’s do better testing. Move testing to airports and give the customer the choice to either go home and quarantine for two weeks if they’re in a position to do so. And if they are not, then get tested and if you can provide a clear result within 48 hours then you’re free to carry on with your life. That would make sense.”

Hughes believes it is unlikely the government would do a U-turn on either its quarantine or FCO advice decisions made last weekend.

“The government won’t change their minds even when they’ve made mistakes, or at least they will leave it two weeks,” she said. “They don’t like to say, ‘Sorry, we’ve gut-reacted and we’ve made mistakes with it’, so it will probably be at least two weeks before changes are made [to major travel destinations such as Spain and Portugal].”

Hughes was the latest industry figure to suggest the government does not understand the model of the outbound travel industry and called for a dedicated minister for the outbound sector.

She added: “The government doesn’t understand the industry – how it’s set up; how the chain works and where the responsibility lies and they really should by now as there have been enough challenges for us as an industry in the last five or 10 years.

“We should have somebody who understands it and at least puts an opinion in before some of these decisions are made,” she said.

“There has to be much better understanding of how this industry works and where the onus lies because it’s the tour ops and the agents who are the ones that pick up the pieces with the customers. Yet airlines aren’t refunding or they’re taking four months to refund in some instances.”

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