The government must consult consumers over plans to restart overseas travel and reassure them that trips abroad will be safe, affordable and their refund rights will be upheld.
The call came from consumer group Which? as it raised concerns that limited opportunities for travellers to engage with the Global Travel Taskforce could mean that their concerns will not be addressed ahead of international travel reopening.
The taskforce is due to outline how it will restart international travel, currently set to reopen no earlier than May 17, when it publishes its report in early April.
Which? wants the taskforce to consider consumer priorities, including measures to build passenger confidence around the safety of travel, accessibility and affordability of Covid tests and vaccine passports and assurances that holidaymakers will not be left out of pocket by travel disruption caused by the virus.
It fears that travellers risk facing another “summer of chaos” and cancelled holidays if the government does not provide assurances around safety, testing costs, health travel certificates, and how bookings will be protected from changing travel restrictions and associated costs, such as Foreign Office warnings against travel or the potential of costly hotel quarantine for arrivals from some destinations.
The government must ensure that effective measures are put in place to ensure international travel is safe, particularly in airports, given the risk of variants of the virus present in other countries being transmitted and brought back to the UK, according to Which?
People are also being urged to share their experiences with the taskforce of how the pandemic has affected their travel plans over the past year and their concerns ahead of travel reopening via email or social media in the period before the taskforce is due to report early next month.
Which? says it is engaging with the taskforce and has shared its calls on the taskforce to deliver for consumers.
Travellers should be provided with:
- Clear information about changing travel rules by the government and travel providers, that international travel will be safe,
- Assurances that they will not face unreasonable additional costs and that the financial risk to consumers is minimised,
- The ability to get their money back if their holiday can’t go ahead, and that any travel health certification will be private and secure.
Which? is advising people not to book any international travel or holidays, and wait until details of the taskforce roadmap have been revealed before making any plans.
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “Many of us are looking forward to the opportunity to step on a plane and travel to family and friends or take a holiday again in the near future, but the past year has taught us that there are a number of risks involved with international travel that need to be removed or reduced before we will be comfortable doing so.
“Confidence in overseas travel has plummeted as a result of the pandemic, and government interventions for both the industry and passengers who have been let down by their operator or airline have been woefully insufficient.
“The taskforce has a real opportunity to give passengers the confidence to travel again, but it must take their concerns into consideration, or else it risks another disastrous summer for passengers and industry alike.”
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