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Handling of traffic light review ‘twice as bad as last year’

The government’s handling of the first review of the traffic light lists for travel this week was “twice as bad as last year”, according to travel bosses.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast from Portugal after its move from the green to amber list, Travcorp Holdings executive chairman and co-owner Andrew Botterill said: “In September last year, [transport minister] Grant Shapps went to the House of Commons and told MPs that the chaos of last year wasn’t going to happen again this year.

“And yet, once again, this government has done a U-turn without any regard for people and families. It’s treacherous.”

He added: “We are going back to the chaos of last summer, where people were having their holidays cut short, and were having to get back to the UK, paying hundreds of pounds for different flights.

“But the difference this year is the government asked us to spend an awful lot on tests that it would appear are a waste of money.”

Botterill said: “I’ve had two vaccinations. I paid for a PCR test for me and my family to get in. This afternoon, I’ll be taking an antigen test to get on the aircraft on Sunday. And on day two after getting back to the UK, I’m taking another PCR test, which is apparently the one that would be helpful if there were different variants around the world.

“So we’ve subscribed to everything that the government wanted us to do. All this apparatus has been put in place by the government to restart travel but now they’re just completely ignoring what they’ve put in place – things that we’ve paid for – and gone and done something that is unforgivable.

Botterill said the government appeared to be able to make such decisions with “complete impunity”.

“They don’t have to give an explanation,” Botterill continued: “These people just seem to be able to do what they want; say what they want.”

Mark Duguid, managing director of luxury operator Carrier, described Thursday’s update as “a monumental step backwards”.

“I don’t think anyone was expecting a huge extension of the green list – or even a modest one to be honest,” he said.

“I anticipated no further green countries yesterday but what I hadn’t anticipated was that we would actually go backwards. It just feels like a real kick in the teeth. It wasn’t expected and I am incredibly disappointed.”

Tony Mann, owner of Idle Travel, said: “It’s just unbelievable. You [the government] are just so unprofessional, leaking it out and sitting in your cupboard saying ‘you’re not going to Portugal’. We’re trying to run businesses and you are just so unprofessional. Run the country? I wouldn’t let you wash my car.”

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