Abta has urged the government to regularly review its new 14-day quarantine policy, arguing that the restrictions on arrivals will be “hugely damaging” to the travel industry.
Home secretary Priti Patel yesterday announced the requirement for all arrivals to self-isolate for 14-days, claiming it as a way to “prevent a second wave of infection”.
Abta said the new rules would “unavoidably put many people off travelling abroad or visiting the UK”, which would in turn have a detrimental impact on the travel industry. It argued it was critical the government regularly reviewed the policy and assessed its effectiveness.
Abta said travel firms and customers needed “clear and consistent guidance” around travel and tourism to ensure consumer confidence in booking forward travel.
The new government quarantine measures come into force from June 8, with plans including random spot checks on international arrivals and £1,000 fines for non-compliance, with the option to raise finds if needed.
All arrivals will be asked to complete a form with their contact information when the measures are introduced.
In a statement, Abta said: “Protecting public health is a priority and it’s vital to base decisions about travel on the best health and scientific advice.
“No-one should be in any doubt, however, that a 14-day quarantine period for all travellers returning to the UK will unavoidably put many people off travelling abroad or visiting the UK, and will therefore have a hugely damaging impact on the UK inbound and outbound tourism industries – which support hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country and have already been severely affected by the pandemic.
“It’s therefore critical that the Government regularly reviews this policy – including assessing its effectiveness and how it works with other control measures. We’d also continue to urge the Government to keep any measures proportionate, targeted and limited only to what is necessary and to seek a coordinated approach with destinations in the EU and beyond.
“In addition, as we enter the recovery phase it is critically important that both businesses and travellers are given clear and consistent guidance and messaging in relation to travel and tourism. This will be vital to support consumer confidence in future travel plans.”
The call was backed by travel agency consortium Advantage Travel Partnership, which urged the government to consult more with the travel industry on the proposed ‘air bridges’.
Chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said: “We ask that government reconsider all available options to keep travel moving. We urge the government to increase consultation with the travel industry around the concept of air bridges to provide a lifeline to travel agents, airlines, hoteliers, tour operators and business travel.
“The uncertainty the government has created around when British travellers can travel abroad again is causing deep consequences for the tourism industry. Our research shows two thirds of Brits would like to head overseas once restrictions are lifted but they will only have the confidence to if the UK government works with the travel sector to establish guidelines that protect travellers.”
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said measures to limit the spread of the virus for travellers was necessary but said the government policy “risks creating further confusion around future travel”.
He said the new rules could result in some people having to cancel their holiday plans without any entitlement to refunds and called on holiday firms to offer flexibility with rebooking options.
He added: “The government must also urgently intervene with support for the industry, to ensure that it is able to withstand the impact of this decision, and that it has the means to refund customers that have been left out of pocket from flight and holiday cancellations.”
Industry leaders responded angrily towards the government confirmation when it was announced yesterday (May 22). The Airport Operators Association said it was disappointed of the “blanket approach” which had been announced “without any consultation with the industry”.
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association said the measures would “cause enormous damage to an economy struggling to get back on its feet”, while UKinbound called the policy “another blow to the UK’s struggling tourism and hospitality industry”.
Manchester Airports Group chief executive Charlie Cornish described the move as “a brick wall to the recovery of the UK aviation and tourism industries”.