Abta believes “a regionalised approach to quarantine” can open the Canary Islands for the winter season despite government reservations about regional corridors to mainland destinations.
Susan Deer, Abta director of industry relations, said: “We’ve been talking about a regional or more risk-based and targeted approach for months.
“It’s something Abta has been asking for from the beginning – not a whole-country approach but looking at the regional data.
“The obvious examples are Portugal and Spain with their islands, particularly the Canaries which may well still have a winter season.”
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Deer acknowledged the call for regional corridors had not prevented the Balearic and Canary Islands’ inclusion with mainland Spain in quarantine restrictions.
She said: “One of the issues with Spain has been that certain regions have been experiencing spikes in the infection rate and there has been concern that people from those areas may travel to areas not experiencing spikes.
“That can obviously affect the public health situation in the islands. So consideration has to be given to those areas when you’re looking at regionalisation. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”
Abta called again this week for “a regionalised approach” with the government poised to review quarantine restrictions.
The association warned: “In the absence of a regional approach to Foreign Office travel advice and quarantine rules, it’s difficult to see how the UK can reopen travel to critical trade partners including the US.”
Deer insisted the government “continues to engage with us and other stakeholders on moving away from the blanket approach to advice”.
She leads Abta’s discussions with the Foreign Office and the association’s head of public affairs Luke Petherbridge leads in talks with the Department for Transport, Home Office and Department for Culture (DCMS).
Deer said: “We’ve been discussing the options in terms of a regional approach with all those departments.”
Advance warning of changes to Foreign Office travel advice and the government’s travel corridors list “is also something we’re discussing”, she said.
Abta extended its discussions with government to a Save Future Travel plan this week, writing to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to call for “tailored support for travel” – including salary support, ‘recovery grants’ like those already extended to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, and an APD holiday.
Deer said: “We need something to help businesses through to January and then to encourage customers to book.
“Furlough has been extremely welcome, but we need people to be working so we need ongoing salary support to get us to the stage where bookings start to pick up again.
“Recovery grants would be most helpful for retail agents and small businesses. Then in terms of incentivising travel, we’re asking for an APD holiday through into 2021.”
However, she does not rule out the outbound sector having a winter season. Deer said: “We’re focused on summer, but planning is already taking place for a winter season.
“We’re looking towards the winter ski season and to what is required not just in terms of the support businesses require but the destination operations and crisis management.
“What will be required for ski may be different to what has been required for summer destinations.”
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