February 29, 2024

Calls for clarity over amber list destinations

The BTA and other industry bodies are calling on the UK Government to end the confusion and uncertainty over travel guidance to amber countries.

CEO Clive Wratten said the current lack of clarity is damaging business and traveller confidence.

It comes after the Prime Minister and other key members of the Government made statements this week telling people not to go on holiday to countries on the amber list, while others said it was OK to visit friends and family.

The current guidance states that travel to amber list destinations is only allowed for a limited number of reasons, which include for work purposes and protecting essential services.

“It’s imperative that the Government updates current travel guidance to remove the uncertainty around the amber list countries without delay. The lack of clarity is damaging business and consumer confidence,” said Wratten.

An ABTA spokesperson said: “It doesn’t make sense for the Government to tell people they shouldn’t travel to amber destinations when the Government itself has put a plan in place that allows them to do this in a risk managed way, with mitigations such as testing and quarantine. The recent comments and mixed messages from Ministers undermine the Government’s own system for international travel and further erode consumer confidence.

“While we understand that public health is the priority, the Government has moved the goalposts on the return to international travel. In April it laid out a sensible plan to enable people to travel overseas, with a traffic light system of measures and mitigations to help prevent the reimportation of the virus on the return home. This is supported by the Foreign Office advice which manages the risk to people in destination.  International travel is now legal again and the traffic light system needs to be allowed to work as originally intended.”

Charlie Cornish, MAG Group CEO, said: “The traffic light system was signed off by the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers to provide a safe framework for international travel based on different levels of risk in green, amber and red countries. The whole point of the framework is to allow people to make their own decisions about whether to travel or not, confident in the knowledge that it would be safe.

“It is simply unacceptable for some ministers and officials to seek to discourage international travel based on their own interpretations of government policy. Comments like these undermine consumer confidence and risk stifling the recovery of one of the UK’s most valuable sectors.”

The call comes as the European Union is expected today to approve the use of vaccine passports to open up travel to and from the region.

The UK is set to be included on an expanded green list allowing travel from non-EU countries with Covid infection rates below 100 cases per 100,000 of the population, rather than the current 25 per 100,000.

“The BTA welcomes the clear stance of the EU that will stimulate all forms of travel. We urge the UK Government to introduce reciprocal arrangements for travellers returning from these countries,” said Wratten.

Suzanne Neufang, CEO for the GBTA, said: “The new proposal asking EU Member States to lift restrictions on non-essential travel for vaccinated persons travelling to the EU is a further positive step towards business travel recovery.

“While the Digital Green Certificate is expected to incentivise EU countries to lift their travel restrictions for EU citizens, this new proposal provides a fresh impetus to start re-opening international travel. We actively encourage EU Member States to align to ensure these recommendations are operational swiftly.”