Reports suggesting an ‘explosion’ in travel bookings with the announcement of a relaxation of UK quarantine restrictions need to be taken with “a pinch of salt”.
The note of caution was voiced by dnata Travel Group chief executive John Bevan amid consumer media reports of a sudden spurt in demand for overseas holidays for the summer.
He warned the industry not to get carried away as confusion still exists over government quarantine guidelines and the ongoing Foreign Office ban on all but essential foreign trips.
Tui UK & Ireland managing director Andrew Flintham also called on the government to provide details as soon as possible.
“We really do need that certainty, so if mid-week or Wednesday, or whenever it’s going to be, if the government can give us that list of destinations we can go to,” he told BBC Radio on Tuesday.
Air corridors could only open after “two-way conversations” between the UK and other countries.
“I think there’s still going to be a few bumps in the road,” he said.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Monday that the government would publish a list of countries “later this week” from which travellers will not have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival, with details expected on Wednesday.
Shapps also confirmed the Foreign Office (FCO) is reviewing its advice against all but essential travel, with details also to follow “later this week”.
A traffic light system of green, amber or red to classify countries depending on an assessment of the Covid-19 risk will be introduced.
Arrivals from those in the green and amber categories will be exempt from quarantine measures from July 6.
Bevan said: “All of our brands welcome the change to this more prudent, risk-based approach to travel.
“We saw positive indicators during the weekend as customers responded to the government’s announcements, with definite upward trends towards short haul destinations and 2020 departures – so confidence is growing.
“However, no-one should get carried away. Success metrics are a long way off where we need them to be and our industry remains in a deep hole.
“There is too much confusion about guidelines, people aren’t clear as what to expect in each destination – or even if they will be welcome when they get there, demand for long haul destinations and cruise remains depressed, and the continued imposition of the FCO’s blanket advice against all but essential travel means nervousness remains.”
He stressed: “Everyone wants, and our industry desperately needs, more clarity.
“So headlines about ‘explosions’ of bookings need to be taken with a pinch of salt.
“We all still have a mountain to climb and the travel industry will take years to recover from the damage caused by this crisis.
“The government urgently needs to outline what other forms of stimulus it can offer.
“Suspending APD on all new bookings for 12 months would be of particular value to the long haul sector, for example.”
Dnata is merging its Travel 2 and Gold Medal brands and is selling its Global Travel Group to rival The Travel Network Group.
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