The UK’s tourism minister has warned there is “no such thing as completely safe travel” amid the Covid pandemic.
Nigel Huddleston MP was speaking at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) global summit in Mexico.
He said: “The [travel] sector has done a great job at reassuring customers that we can travel safely but we have to do so cautiously, still, as we’re in a global pandemic and in a global pandemic there is no such thing as completely safe travel.”
Commenting on tension between the government and travel industry about the quarantine measures he said: “There are no easy options, no easy answers.
“Every single option we pursue has a downside.”
But he continued: “We need to do everything we can to reassure customers, both domestic and internationally, that all stakeholders – government and businesses – are taking their responsibilities seriously. We have largely seen that.
“Nobody wants the restriction measures in place any longer than necessary. But none of us know how long ‘necessary’ is.”
He said there has been a “positive relationship” between the government and private sector, adding: “That partnership and cooperation has been really important.”
However, he admitted that the speed of decision-making has to be quick sometimes to combat sudden surges in the virus, which can cause inconvenience to travellers and businesses.
Huddleston said the government is working with its counterparts in other countries to align the measures on international travel and liaise on issues such as vaccine certification.
“We absolutely want to work, and are working very closely, with our EU partners and indeed around the world,” he said.
“Let’s be honest, it is not going to be easy to travel, it is not going to be seamless to travel over the next few months and potentially years but we want to make it as simple as possible. That’s a shared goal around most major economies.”
He said he was “very optimistic” about the long-term future for the travel and tourism industry.
“The sector is always getting hit but then recovers with incredible speed,” he said.
“I have absolute confidence of a very strong domestic and international recovery over the next few months and years because the sector is so agile and so resilient, and the overall long-term trends are very positive.”
The WTTC says its global summit in Cancun is the first face-to-face event in the travel and tourism industry since the pandemic hit, and the first major live event in the sector this year.
About 600 delegates are attending in person, while thousands more have been watching the hybrid event online.
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