Leaders of more than 70 UK travel and hospitality businesses have urged home secretary Priti Patel to drop plans for 14-day quarantine restrictions on arrivals to the UK.
The travel and hospitality chiefs wrote to her today urging she abandon the restrictions, saying: “There is a glimmer of hope that some summer business might be salvaged. The last thing the industry needs is a mandatory quarantine.”
The government confirmed details of the quarantine restrictions, to apply to overseas visitors and travellers returning to the UK from June 8, at the end of last week.
Signatories to the letter include chairmen, chief executives and managing directors of companies including Abercrombie & Kent, Rocco Forte Hotels, DER Touristik, Kirker Holidays, Scott Dunn, Red Savannah, Mandarin Oriental, Rosewood Hotels, The Savoy, The Ritz London, The Dorchester, The Berkeley, The Goring and Claridges.
George Morgan-Grenville, chief executive of tour operator Red Savannah, said: “The quarantine plans are poorly thought-out, wholly detrimental to industry recovery and more or less unworkable.”
The letter points out: “Many people urged the government to impose quarantine regulations during the early phases of Covid-19.
“Instead, no action was taken . . . Covid-19 is now under control . . . However, the economic cost of the government’s action is yet to be seen, apart from early indicators which paint a grim picture.”
Announcing the restrictions, the home secretary justified their timing saying: “Arrivals to the UK have been down by 99%. Now we’re past the peak [of Covid-19 infection] we must take this action as the number of travellers increases because these could become a high proportion of infections in the UK.
“It’s different to when the domestic outbreak was at a peak and international travel was at an all-time low.”
The industry leaders wrote: “The UK travel industry is currently severely challenged . . . The government has been woefully slow to react and procrastinated to the point of absurdity in terms of providing support for or ruling against the concept of Refund Credit Notes.
“The last thing the travel industry needs is a mandatory quarantine imposed on all arriving passengers which will deter foreign visitors from coming here, deter UK visitors from travelling abroad and . . . cause other countries to impose reciprocal quarantine requirements on British visitors.”
France has already threatened retaliatory restrictions on UK visitors.
The letter adds: “The people of this country do not wish to be prevented from travelling . . . it is time to switch the emphasis to economic recovery before it is too late.
“We urge the Home Secretary to abandon the concept of mandatory quarantine.”
The industry chiefs’ letter commends “the plan for ‘air bridges’ between the UK and countries where there is a low rate of Covid-19”, suggesting the government “has dismissed this plan without due consultation”.
In fact, aviation minister Kelly Tolhurst confirmed the Department for Transport (DfT) is considering the establishment of air bridges or ‘travel corridors’ when she appeared before the Transport Select Committee last week, and transport secretary Grant Shapps did the same in separate remarks to MPs earlier in the week.
DfT aviation director Rannia Leontaridi told the same committee: “We have a number of interested parties working with us looking at the concept of air bridges.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson, appearing before the Commons Liaison Committe on Wednesday, indicated that ‘air bridges’ with other countries could be agreed if the UK makes progress in reducing the Covid-19 infection rate.
Dale Keller, chief executive of the UK Board of Airline Representatives (BAR-UK), told Travel Weekly: “Air corridors are what the industry wants [and] the industry is closely engaged with the government on this.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border.
“We continue to support businesses in the tourism sector through one of the most generous economic packages provided anywhere in the world. However, it is right that we introduce these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave.”
The signatories are:
Sir Rocco Forte – Chairman & CEO, Rocco Forte Hotels
Henrietta Loyd – Founder, Cazenove & Loyd
Geoffrey Kent – Co-Chairman, Abercrombie & Kent Group
Andrew Sutcliffe QC – 3VB Chambers
Andrew Dunn – Chairman, Scott Dunn
Tom Barber – Co-Founder & Director – Original Travel
Henry Cookson FRGS – Chairman & Founder, Cookson Adventures
Oliver Brendon – CEO & Founder, ATD Travel Services
Edward Orr – Chairman, Mr & Mrs Smith
Manfredi Lefebvre – Co-Chairman, Abercrombie & Kent Group
Victoria Williams Hooberman – Director, Scott Williams
Derek Jones – CEO, Der Touristik UK
Francis Torrilla – Managing Director, Jules Verne
Jennifer Atkinson – CEO, Inspiring Travel Company
Rupert Longsdon – Founder & CEO, Oxford Ski Company & Oxford Private Travel
James Jayasundera – Founder & Managing Director, Ampersand Travel
Joss Kent – CEO, &Beyond
Edward Granville – Director, Red Savannah
Nick Van Gruisen – Managing Director, The Ultimate Travel Company
Simon Leadsford – Publisher, Conde Nast Traveller
Kerry Golds – Managing Director, Abercrombie & Kent
Tom Marchant – Co-Founder, The Black Tomato Group
Maymie White – Director, Scott Williams
Glen Donovan – Founder, Earth
Paul Cleary – Managing Director, Caribtours
Ted Wake – Director, Kirker Holidays
Roz Webster – Founder, Cream Travel
Mehra Dalton – Founder & CEO, Greaves Travel
James Merrett – Co-Founder, The Black Tomato Group
Pammy Goodman – Travel Editor, House & Garden
Kane Pirie – Founder & CEO, Vivid Travel
Lucy Cleland – Editorial Director, Country & Townhouse
Sarah Mason – Managing Director, Mason Rose Private
Serge Dive – Founder & CEO, Beyond Media
Ileana von Hirsch – Managing Director, Five Star Greece
Mary Ann Curtis-Green – Managing Director – Mahout
Andrew Loyd – Co-Founder, Loyd & Townsend
Rose Matt Smith – Co-Founder, The Black Tomato Group
Gemma Antrobus – Managing Director, Haslemere Travel
Alice Daunt – Founder, Daunt Travel
Marina Gratsos – Founder, Carpe Diem Luxury Travel
Judy Menier – Founder, SJ Villas
Mark Hudson – Chairman, Digital Health Intelligence
Michelle Jana Chan – Travel Editor, Vanity Fair
David Morgan-Hewitt – Managing Director, The Goring
Amanda Hyndman – General Manager & Vice President Operations, Mandarin Oriental
Michael Bonsor – Managing Director, The Rosewood London
Bob Van Den Oord – Managing Director, The Langham London
Guillaume Marly – Managing Director, Hotel Cafe Royal
Jannes Soerensen – General Manager, The Beaumont
Philip Barnes – Regional Vice President and Managing Director, The Savoy
Aaron Kaupp – General Manager, Jumeirah Carlton Tower
Andrew Batchelor – General Manager, The Landmark London
Thomas Kochs – Managing Director, Corinthia London
Stuart Proctor – COO, Stafford Collection
Joanna Taylor-Stagg – General Manager, The Athenaeum Hotel
Kurt Macher – General Manager, Shangri-La Hotel The Shard Hotel, London
Stuart Johnson – Managing Director, Browns Hotel
Kostas Sfaltos – General Manager, Bvlgari Hotel
Guillaume Marly – Managing Director, Café Royal
Paul Jackson – General Manager, Claridge’s
Jurgen Ammerstorfer – General Manager, The London Edition
Philip Barnes – Managing Director, The Savoy
Arnaud de Saint-Exupery – General Manager, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill
Sonja Vodusek – Managing Director, The Peninsula London
Knut Wylde – General Manager – The Berkeley
Sandeep Bhalla – General Manager, The Connaught
Sal Gowili – General Manager, The Ritz
Andrew Batchelor – General Manager, The Landmark Hotel
Bob Van Den Oord – Managing Director, The Langham
Klaus Kabelitz – General Manager, The Biltmore Mayfair
Frank Kenyon-Slaney – Director, World Odyssey
Jeremy Goring – CEO, The Goring
Huw Beaugié – Founder, The Thinking Traveller
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