Abta has published a summary of its written submission to the Global Travel Taskforce, in which it outlines a series of principles and suggestions for restarting international travel.

The association has called for a tiered system of risk categorisation for destinations, and said it stressed the need for stability “to avoid situations like those seen last summer, where severe restrictions are introduced very quickly and applied without transition measures, which deters people from travelling”.

The taskforce was due to issue its findings on April 12. However, prime minister Boris Johnson revealed this week that he would now unveil a framework based on the taskforce’s report a week earlier, on April 5.

Abta’s submission said:

  • The government must adopt a risk-based approach that balances domestic public health with the economic and social need to get travel re-started.
  • The eventual aim for restarting international travel must be to return to a situation where most destinations are subject to minimal restrictions. This should include the principle that UK nationals that have been vaccinated are exempted from mitigation measures, such as testing and self-isolation, unless scientific evidence dictates otherwise.
  • Risk management should be based on a system of vaccine certification, rapid testing and selective quarantine.
  • FCDO Travel Advice should be fully regionalised and used only where the risk in destination for UK citizens is unacceptably high.
  • Government should review current bans on cruise holidays and school-trips, treating cruise as a mode of transport.
  • Clear criteria and data underlying destination risk assessments should be made available to allow travel companies and customers to plan ahead, and to restore confidence.
  • The government must engage with destination partners, especially in key markets, to ensure travel can resume at the earliest opportunity.
  • Consumer confidence is critical to the recovery of international travel. The government should commit that destinations which are opened for international travel will not be closed-off suddenly, unless a variant of concern becomes dominant, and other mitigation measures will be used wherever possible. The package travel regulations also give consumers reassurance and many travel businesses are offering additional flexibility.
  • Government needs to look at the costs of testing to ensure they are affordable, recognising some people may require multiple tests. Prices vary wildly in the UK and are much more expensive than in other parts of Europe.