UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft has hailed the easing of restrictions for vaccinated travellers from the EU and US as a “fantastic step forward that will allow the £28 billion inbound tourism sector, which supports over 500,000 jobs across the UK, to finally restart”.
However he warned inbound tourism businesses still face “substantial barriers” to recovery, warning: “Even with reciprocity, the valuable 2021 summer season is all but lost for inbound tourism, meaning thousands of businesses and jobs will continue to be at risk over winter.”
Croft added: “There is a real fear that government will view today as job done, the industry can trade again and therefore no further support is required. There are still significant restrictions at our borders.
“This leaves our sector in desperate need of targeted support, to ensure businesses and skilled jobs survive into 2022, when this industry will be able to significantly aid the country’s economic recovery.”
Despite the positive reaction, Tom Jenkins, chief executive of European travel asssociation Etoa, said the move long overdue.
He said: “The UK has left it very late to stop scoring own goals. 80% of all visits from the US come in the period January-September, of which the peak period is September, during the time around “Labor Day”.
“The EU added the US to its “white list” in June, and Etoa members were able to salvage something of the season by selling European destinations. Some American visitors came in July, many more will be doing so in August. And all is set fair for a viable September in the Schengen area. In the UK, booking protocols mean that August and September have already been cancelled. The UK lost its high season at the start of July.”
Jenkins added: “There will be some recovery. Last minute bookings will come into London. Some of the October business will be salvaged. But the influx of American visitors that is happening in the cities and regions of the EU is not going to occur in the UK in 2021.”
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, said the announcement was “good news” for the inbound sector. But she concurred with Jenkins, adding: “This policy should have been adopted months ago.”