Dorking Travel calls on foreign secretary to alter FCO advice

Dorking Travel owner Alistair McLean has written to foreign secretary Dominic Raab to appeal for an end-date to be set for international travel restrictions and to warn of agency failures if the indefinite ban is maintained.

He said in the letter: “This indeterminate timeframe makes it impossible for mine, or other businesses in the travel sector to plan. Nor does it allow customers to plan.

“The UK government is effectively banning travel, and as a result I am forced to refund customers in full for bookings already made, and am unable to make any new bookings with any confidence they will be allowed to take place.”

The letter continues by saying the current situation is putting Dorking Travel and other agencies in jeopardy.

“For every week that passes without clarity it threatens the survival of my business. Your government is on record stating it will do everything possible to save as many businesses as it can and save jobs.

“We now need a date when international travel restrictions will be lifted. I therefore ask you to make a statement to Parliament as soon as possible.”

He added: “We were the first industry to be affected and it seems we will be the last to come out the other side.”

McLean’s letter states that other countries are starting to ease restrictions in preparation for receiving tourists again, and yet the UK has no timeframe of when it will be allowed to send any.

“I have learnt today that borders around the world are beginning to open. Hotels, bars, restaurants and places of interest are opening and are taking tentative steps to reignite their businesses, and with special measures in place, are hoping to welcome travellers.

“However, your department continues to advise against all international travel for the ‘foreseeable future’,” he said.

“I wonder at what point our ambassadors and high commissioners will be called to explain to host governments why the UK authorities are effectively placing sanctions on their tourism business, and for many this is one of their primary industries employing thousands of people.”

McLean concludes his letter by asking what compensation will be afforded to travel businesses if no clarity is given.

“If you are unable to provide clarity, please can you explain what special provision your government will put in place to refund me and many of my colleagues for the loss of business revenue we are suffering?” he said.

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