Summer holidays this year are not going to be possible, health secretary Matt Hancock told views of ITV’s This Morning.
Hancock was asked whether this summer would be essentially be cancelled for holidays and 2020 will be unlike any summer since the second world war.
“I think that’s likely to be the case. We haven’t made a final decision on that yet but it is clear we will seek to reopen some hospitality from early July if we keep successfully reducing the spread of this virus.
“Social distancing of some kind is going to continue and I think the conclusion from that it is unlikely that that big lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer. I just think that’s a reality of life.”
A spokesman for Jet2holidays and Jet2.com said the operator still plans on recommencing flights and holidays on June 17.
“We note the comments made by the Secretary of State for Health,” he said. “These are his personal opinions and are not government policy. We are continuing with our plans to recommence flights and holidays on June 17, a decision we are keeping under constant review in line with guidance from governments and the relevant authorities.”
An Abta spokesman added: “Outbound travel brings huge benefits to the UK; its direct contribution to the economy is £15.9bn. We’d ask that government ministers be more sensitive to the language they use and avoid speculating about things that go beyond the government’s own policy announcements. Careless talk has the potential to seriously damage consumer confidence, and this will directly affect people’s jobs and livelihoods.”
Writing in response to Hancock’s comments on LinkedIn, Joanna Kolatsis, an industry legal expert from Themis Advisory, said: “If this is correct and international travel can’t happen this summer for everybody’s safety and well-being no one will argue with this, but surely the Govt must now come out with supportive measures for the travel industry.
“How is an entire sector supposed to survive and re-emerge from this crisis ready to provide services to customers when almost an entire year’s trading will be decimated?!
“This is not about the ability to go on holiday – we can all wait for that if it’s in everyone’s interests. The reality is about people’s livelihoods if they don’t have jobs to go back to when this is over.
“If airlines can’t operate and travel agents can’t provide services and tour operators can’t sell trips, then who is going to fund them mothballing their businesses ready for 2021?
“People will want and need to travel when the threat subsides and the Govt needs to support the travel sector so they are ready for the bounce back.”