Abta renews sector support plea ahead of next travel rules review

Abta says action is still needed from government to open up travel to more destinations, make foreign travel easier for UK citizens and support the industry through to recovery.

The travel association has written to transport secretary Grant Shapps ahead of the next strategic review on the requirements for international travel due on July 31.

It highlights the ongoing need for a package of tailored financial support for the industry, including extension of furlough support and business rates relief at current levels, and a grant scheme to help firms through “very difficult” weeks and months ahead.

Abta says this is vital given the government’s acknowledgement that, while all restrictions have been lifted domestically, it is a different case for international travel, which means industry’s recovery is further behind the rest of the UK economy.

More: Abta’s 2021 Travel Convention to be both in-person and online

Abta study finds ‘ongoing’ public confidence in agents and packages

The association also raises questions about the government’s recent traffic light decisions to remove the exemption from quarantine for passengers returning from France who have had both vaccinations, arguing changes to the traffic light structure should only happen at strategic review points, and to place the Balearics on the amber list.

The letter also calls on government to:

  • Make further progress on testing being more affordable and proportionate, including removing post-arrival testing for green list countries, or at very least use of lateral flow testing for those destinations.
  • Add more destinations to the green list, as other countries begin to make significant progress with their own vaccine programme rollouts.
  • Resume international cruise in light of the detailed operating protocols for handling Covid-19 which have been put in place and worked in domestic cruising.
  • Progress mutual recognition of vaccination certification systems, especially with key markets such as the EU and US.
  • Introduce an additional checkpoint review of the requirements for international travel at the end of August – waiting until the end of October is too long during what is such a critical period for the industry.

Abta public affairs director Luke Petherbridge said: “While there have been some positive developments in recent weeks – most notably that people who have received both vaccinations through the NHS don’t need to quarantine when returning from amber countries – the industry continues to suffer setbacks like the recent changes we have seen to France and the Balearics.

“Every unexpected change or unexplained decision puts another dent in consumer confidence, which is already fragile.

“We agree with the aviation minister’s comments earlier this week that the best way of supporting the industry is to enable businesses to trade their way to recovery, but it is increasingly clear that the government is failing to provide the predictability and stability required to rebuild consumer confidence and bring about the necessary conditions for a recovery.

“The government must take action to support the travel industry – which is not only important in terms of jobs and contributions to the economy, but also the UK’s wider recovery from the pandemic. We’re a global nation and our international connectivity underpins this.”

More: Abta’s 2021 Travel Convention to be both in-person and online

Abta study finds ‘ongoing’ public confidence in agents and packages

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