Trade associations have called on the devolved nations to follow England’s lead on the easing of travel restrictions, while warning that the inbound and outbound sectors are “not out of the woods yet”.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said: “Today’s announcement is a huge leap forwards in getting travel back to normal in England, in particular the removal of day 2 tests for those who are double vaccinated. The relaxation of testing rules will make it easier for people to travel abroad for holidays, business and to see friends and family.
“Consistency across the UK is really important so we now need the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to adopt the same approach.”
Tanzer also welcomed the government’s commitment to simplifying the passenger locator form, looking to end managed quarantine and formulating a plan for future variants, adding: “Measures such as pre-departure tests introduced in the early stages of the Omicron variant were a significant blow to the industry’s recovery and must be avoided in future.”
Joss Croft, UKinbound chief executive, said the announcement that post-arrival testing would be scrapped entirely for the fully-vaccinated was a “huge relief” for England’s tourism industry and would allow inbound business to “start trading their way to recovery”.
But he said a four nations approach to re-opening would be crucial given visitors’ desire to travel to more than one country in the UK.
He added: “We can’t be complacent. The UK’s inbound tourism industry has been decimated for almost two years and we are not out of the woods yet.
“Inbound tourism businesses are counting the cost of survival with rising debt and staffing issues. To bolster recovery, we need government to put in place targeted support which will bolster demand and encourage international visitors to spend their money on a holiday to the UK, rather than elsewhere.”
Gary Lewis, chief executive of The Travel Network Group, echoed Croft’s view for the outbound sector, saying: “The removal of all testing for double-jabbed travellers feels like a significant moment for the industry and another positive step on the road back to recovery.
“We’ve already seen the green shoots of growth as holidaymakers look with confidence to booking a holiday in 2022 and this is another shot in the arm. Confidence is returning and, although we’re not yet out of the woods, this is welcome news for our industry.”
Julia Simpson, chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said the announcement would be a “massive boost for businesses after a gruelling 18 months”.
She added: “There is no longer any need for testing, and we urge ministers across the UK and countries around the world to follow England’s lead and allow the fully vaccinated to travel freely.”
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said the removal of testing was a “shot in the arm” for the sector.
He said: “The removal of return testing is a huge boost for business travel. It is the vital shot in the arm corporates and their employees need to have confidence to deliver ambitious international programmes that will enable a truly global Britain.
“To maintain this momentum, it is imperative that the UK government works on a response for future variants that does not involve the closure of borders or the introduction of draconian isolation measures. International protocols are the only way to future-proof our industry, trade and the global economy.”