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MP at Day of Action insists government not penalising outbound travel

The chair of the foreign affairs select committee insists the government is making its decisions on international travel based on the science and not punishing individual industries.

MP Tom Tugendhat met Tangney Tours owner John Tangney, and Aito chairman Chris Rowles at the industry’s Travel Day of Action on College Green today.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, he said: “Most people [MPs] realise that this is a hugely important industry both in itself but also as an enabler of so many others.

“We all know that the same plane that carries holidaymakers carries business people and cargo – and if we take away one of these elements it adds to the cost of others.”

Tugendhat said there was “not much” being said in Parliament about the potential to reopen travel than what has already been recently reported – that the government is considering the possibility of allowing quarantine-free travel for amber list countries.

“We need to be guided by the science,” he stressed, adding: “But these are not just data decisions, these are political decisions.”

He said decisions on international travel were being made at cabinet level, and MPs like him who backed a safe reopening “need our voices heard better”.

But he strongly defended the government against accusations it was prioritising domestic tourism over outbound.

Asked if the policy was a ploy to keep furlough money in the UK, Tugendhat said: “No. People are making decisions based on infection rates.

“I believe we can be quicker in opening up but I don’t think the government is being dishonest. It may be mistaken, but it’s not dishonest.

“The government is trying to help every other business in the UK. It’s not chosen to close down travel to prefer domestic tourism.

“It’s trying to boost business in the UK and it’s not made a separate decision on travel, but it would be wrong to conflate the two.”

On a potential extension of furlough on a sector-specific basis, Tugendhat said “a lot of us are talking to Rishi at the moment” but went no further.

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