The government must provide further support to the travel sector once travel restrictions to quarantine exempt countries are lifted.
The lack of clarity and confusion over when and where people will be allowed to go on holiday to highlights a lack of understanding of the industry.
The accusation was made by dnata Travel Group chief executive John Bevan amid reports that planned air bridges with ‘low risk’ Covid countries will be replaced by a list of 75 countries to be exempted from 14-day UK quarantine restrictions.
A traffic light system is expected to be unveiled detailing countries deemed to be safe for travel from Monday, July 6.
However, the ban on non-essential travel is to continue to countries such as the US, Russia and Brazil, on the ‘red’ list.
Bevan said: “If they’re accurate, today’s reports about an exemption list of ‘safe’ destinations to which Brits can travel to and from without the need to quarantine are sure to be welcomed by our customers and agent partners, who have been telling us they’re ready to start booking again for some time.
“But while we’re ready to help them make those bookings, the whole issue remains mired in confusion and poor communication.
“How many of the destinations on this list will welcome Brits, for example, given our own infection rates? How do we reassure thousands of customers looking to travel later this year that their holidays are safe if we don’t know restrictions could be re-imposed?”
He added: “It is yet another indication that this government really doesn’t understand the travel industry.
“Every day of indecision causes further damage, leading to more strain on already beleaguered businesses, job insecurity and the erosion of trust.
“Although this development means we can hopefully now start to rebuild in earnest, our industry will need a lot of further support if it is to fully recover and be the engine of growth that it was prior to the pandemic.”
Gloria Guevara, president and chief eecutive of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), echoed Bevan’s message.
She said: “For the best part of a week the UK government has delayed announcing which countries will be safe for British holidaymakers to fly to for what’s left of their summer holidays, resulting in frustration and confusion among travellers.
“While we understand the need to secure reciprocal travel agreements, the clock has been ticking. Each day we delay, more jobs in the Travel & Tourism sector will be lost or put at risk, both in the UK and overseas.
“We need to restore consumer confidence so travellers and holidaymakers can book flights and holidays and be sure they will be able to travel when and where they want and enjoy a much-need break away. We encourage the UK government to let consumers know where they stand without any further delay.”
VIVID Travel founder Kane Pire said: “The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice against all but essential travel has not changed since March 17 and an update is long overdue. The dithering and delay is a crass insult to thousands of people working tirelessly every day in the travel industry, fighting uphill to keep businesses and jobs alive.
“The government is making it Mission Impossible. Images of Mr Johnson doing press-ups or yet another catchy three-word slogan will not help me pay this month’s wages. It butters no parsnips. The government talks about a concern for jobs but we need action now not more huff, puff and spin.
“The current blanket ban now reflects political wrangling and indecision rather than genuine safety concerns. More important than 25 or 75 countries is an update today. Jobs depend upon it.”
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