Tui’s UK boss is calling on the government to provide ‘clear and aligned’ travel advice alongside regulations for the sector to restart this summer.

UK managing director Andrew Flintham said coordination between the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice and travel corridors will be ‘key’ to reopening international travel from May 17, the earliest possible resumption date earmarked by government.

It is one of Tui’s core messages to the government’s Global Travel Taskforce, which also includes the need for a ‘broad’ travel certification, a cheap testing process and an end to negative travel messages by ministers.

Speaking at the Travel Weekly Future of Travel spring forum, Flintham was “hopeful and fairly confident” about the taskforce’s report on how travel can restart, due on April 12.

But he pointed out how airlines continued to fly to certain destinations last summer while package travel operators were forced to cancel in line with FCDO advice.

“We need the message to be ‘travel is open’,” said Flintham. “What we are telling government is we really need clear, coordinated and aligned FCDO advice that goes along with this to open up travel.”

The differences between FCDO advice and the Department for Transport and Home Office ‘travel corridors’ list of countries exempt from UK quarantine restrictions was widely criticised last summer. This was partly down to travellers who chose not to travel in line with FCDO advice being unable to claim refunds for flight-only bookings when airlines continued to operate against the advice.

Flintham said the lack of coordinated advice had made it difficult and confusing for travel companies and holidaymakers to “navigate” in 2020.

He added: “It’s one thing to open up travel, to have a set of policies around what documents you need to turn up to go somewhere.

“It’s another if you have travel advice [against] all but essential travel because clearly some airlines will carry on operating to those places, because they can.

“And they don’t ask people why they are going, it’s not their responsibility to, whereas clearly, if you are selling holidays, we can’t take people.”

The UK’s largest tour operator is one of the travel companies being consulted by the government’s taskforce.

The company is also pushing for travel certification to be “as broad as it possibly can” to allow travel to restart as well as an easily available, cheap and quick testing process.

Flintham said: “Our view is really simple. It has to be the most broad, encompassing way of getting people to be able to travel. Something that does that is really important.

“Clearly testing is going to be important, but that testing has to be easy – easily available, cost effective, quick – not a three-day PCR test.”

Another key message to the government is to stress the importance of stopping negative “language about travel” by different government ministers.

Instead, the message should focus on the flexibility now offered by firms in the industry to holidaymakers so that they can book a holiday but amend it if necessary, said Flintham. “If you want to book [a holiday] you should,” he said.

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