A leading travel agency boss is poised to tell MPs of the urgent need to clarify what happens when a country is moved to the red list following the latest rule changes for international travel.
Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan has been invited to speak on Tuesday to a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation, set up last year to find ways to tackle the challenges facing the aviation, travel and tourism sectors as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Morgan welcomed the abolition of the amber destination list, announced by transport secretary Grant Shapps last week, but pledged to raise the issue of countries changing colour with MPs.
He called for an immediate clarification of the process if a country is switched from green to red, warning a change with just a few days’ notice would kill off travel businesses because it would stop holidaymakers from booking.
“We need clarification as to when updates will happen and what will happen as the government does not seem to have any awareness of the impact of this on travel businesses,” he said.
He added: “Unless I have missed it, no formal review dates have been put in place, and importantly, no structure for any changes has been laid out [in the latest announcement]. If countries simply move to the red list on a Thursday for a deadline of 4am on Saturday, we have a huge problem.”
The summer was lost due to the unexpected decision to move Portugal off the green list, he said, because of the fear among clients of having to pay to quarantine in the UK if they could not get home before the colour changed.
He said: “It’s £2,000 per person to quarantine in a Heathrow hotel, for a family of four that’s £10,000. Can they afford to take that risk?
“It’s the principle of it changing. It doesn’t have to be a big destination, it’s the message it sends out. We saw what happened when Portugal changed colour in the summer. Businesses in the travel industry will die as a result.”
Morgan is calling for the government to commit to a two-week notice period of a country turning red, during which time he suggested returning holidaymakers should take a PCR test which is geo-sequenced and checked for variants of concern.
He said this would “hit the right balance of public health safety and gives potential travellers the confidence to book”.
Morgan said he also hoped to use the opportunity to speak to MPs to explain the business model of a travel agency. “I want to make them aware of how we are different. Just because sales are strong doesn’t mean we are getting any money,” he said.