Trade associations representing Africa and South America have welcomed the addition of more countries to the government’s travel corridors list.
Rwanda and Namibia are the first countries in Africa to be included in the quarantine-free travel list. Both are welcoming tourists who bring evidence of a negative test.
Uruguay is the second country in South America to receive the green light from government after Chile.
However, borders are only open to Uruguayan citizens and residents.
The industry has been lobbying for the addition of more long-haul destinations to the ‘safe’ travel corridors list even though the November lockdown in England bars almost all international travel.
The United Arab Emirates was among eight destinations included last week, leading to a spike in demand for winter holidays to Dubai.
EL AL and Etihad Airways are to explore deeper co-operation including joint codeshare services between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv, as well as on the global networks beyond the two carriers’ hubs.
The Africa Travel and Tourism Association started a petition last month calling for a review of travel corridors to countries in the continent to removed the need for 14 days quarantine on return to the UK.
ATTA chief executive Chris Mears said: “We are delighted to hear that finally two African countries have been granted air bridges with the news being welcomed both in Africa and within our UK tour operator community.
“We still have a long way to go and I hope other countries in Africa with similarly low levels of Covid-19 infections will now be reviewed.
“Above all, this is a big step in the right direction and allows the realistic resumption of tourism to both Namibia and Rwanda.”
Danny Callaghan, chief executive of the Latin America Travel Association, described the addition of Uruguay as “another big step in the right direction” for the region’s tourism recovery.
“I hasten to add that, while Uruguay has been added to the UK travel corridor’s list, at present there are restrictions in place for non-Uruguayan nationals or non-legal residents entering the country,” he said. “As always, we advise travellers to consult their tour operator and the FCDO travel advice before travelling to any Latin American destination.
“While travel to Uruguay may not be a reality straight away, this news highlights the nation’s excellent management of the coronavirus pandemic and reinforces the perception of Latin America as a safe and secure visitor destination.
“Uruguay was also included in the European Union’s list of safe countries back in June which demonstrates that the country has continually managed the pandemic in an effective manner.“
There are currently no direct flights to Uruguay from the UK.
“However it is important to note that Uruguay is a piece of a much larger puzzle,” Callaghan added.
“LATA is delighted to see this trend towards Latin American destinations being deemed safe by the British authorities and hopes for the trend to continue.
“We highlighted last week that many other destinations in Latin America have similar and, indeed in some cases, lower infection rates than Uruguay and Chile so we remain confident that we will see more countries joining the list.
“News such as this instils great confidence in us and our members that a recovery is on the horizon and that we will once again be able to welcome British tourists in 2021 after what has been a torrid year for the global travel industry.”
Jean-Marc Flambert, Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) UK & Ireland committee member welcomed the addition of Sri Lanka, which is yet to open its borders to international travel.
“This is very welcome news for the Asia Pacific region as yet another of our destinations is added to the travel corridor list. Pata is delighted with the news,” he said. “The key message is that Sri Lanka is very much ready to welcome tourists again once borders re-open to international tourism.”
He noted that the Sri Lankan health ministry, along with the private sector, had put in place “strict protocols” to minimise the impact of Covid-19, but pointed out that the domestic market is open swith hotels “running at good occupancy and fine tuning their Covid procedures ready for international tourists”.
“Sri Lanka hotels and DMC’s are putting together some really strong packages to support the UK industry as they return to selling,” added Flambert. “We encourage the trade to take bookings for Q2 2021 onwards, not just for Sri Lanka but all destinations on the travel corridor list in Asia Pacific. The British market is resilient so this is another step in boosting consumer confidence in travel to the region.”