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WTTC warns of second ‘lost summer’ for UK

The World Travel & Tourism Council has warned the UK  travel industry and consumers face another ‘lost summer’ unless European leaders take a coordinated approach to allow double-jabbed holidaymakers to travel.

The global tourism body has called on government leaders across Europe to work together to reopen borders on the day the EU launches its Digital Covid Certificate, which aims to reopen safe travel on the continent.

It said the controversial traffic light system, quarantines, costly Covid-19 tests and confusing travel rules will put families off travel has effectively made much of Europe off-limits to holidaymakers for a second successive year despite the success of the vaccination rollout.

The WTTC has already warned the UK government it faces a £19.8 million loss to the country if international travel is not possible during July, and fears August will suffer the same fate.

Virginia Messina, senior vice president, WTTC, said: “It’s hard to believe that the UK travel and tourism sector and holidaymakers are facing yet another ‘lost summer’ with no significant travel in sight, despite the hugely successful vaccination rollout.

“The vaccination programme should have unlocked the door to international travel. Instead we are seeing the second summer with only limited travel in prospect while Europe is reopening.”

She argued that “it doesn’t have to be like this” and maintained health and safety can still be the priority while international travel is reopened safely.

She urged the government to take advantage of the opportunity created by having such a high percentage of the population fully inoculated to allow those holidaymakers safe travel while hinting other EU countries should not discriminate against the UK due to the Delta variant.

She added: “We must also be very careful not to discriminate against entire nationalities due to the appearance of variants. A combination of variants and testing will provide the protection needed to minimise the risk of transmission.

“A coordinated response from leaders across Europe is critical if the UK is to have any hope of saving some of the peak summer season for travellers and the struggling travel and tourism sector.”

Earlier this month, WTTC research showed that if international travel remained off limits for all of July, the UK would lose £639 million a day.

The WTTC also called for the traffic light system to be abandoned.

It said another month of delayed travelling would put up to 218,000 more travel and tourism jobs at serious risk, in addition to 307,000 jobs lost in the UK last year.

In 2019, international visitors to the UK spent £35.6 billion, making it the world’s fifth biggest economy in terms of travel and tourism gross domestic product (GDP). In the same year, travel and tourism contributed 10.1% to the UK’s GDP and supported 4.3 million jobs, representing 12% of total employment.

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