June 15, 2024

Reaction to the latest review of the traffic light system

From July 19, British citizens arriving from amber list countries will no longer need to quarantine but hopes of key destinations going on the green list have been dashed. Here's how travel industry leaders met the latest announcements...

Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association
“The latest review of the traffic light system is on-time but offers no hope to any UK travellers. The majority of additions to the green list will not accept entrants from the UK. This lack of international protocols make any changes irrelevant for British business travellers.

“There must be a global approach in international standards for travel. Until such protocols exist, the travel sector remains in lockdown and must be supported.
Next week’s Freedom Day will be another day in handcuffs for our industry.”

British Airways CEO and Chairman Sean Doyle
“While the quarantine requirement for ‘amber’ countries is being lifted for fully vaccinated UK travellers, the Government needs to quickly extend this to all vaccinated travellers, agree a reciprocal deal with the US, add more countries to the ‘green’ list and reduce the need for unnecessary, expensive tests. This will allow the UK to catch up with other countries and send a message that Global Britain is now, finally, open again.”

Virginia Messina, WTTC Senior Vice President
“Although it’s great news for the double-jabbed and under-18’s who also are exempt from quarantines, it still leaves more than one in three UK adults who’ve only received a single dose forced into quarantine when they arrive back in the UK from an amber list country. Countries must take a coordinated and harmonised approach and align policies to avoid confusion.”

Steve Norris, MD EMEA of Flight Centre Travel Group
“News that vaccinated travellers can travel to amber countries with no quarantine is fantastic for leisure customers looking to book their well-needed summer holiday, but we know that a huge chunk of the UK’s recovery is being considerably overlooked by the delay in rolling out a usable strategy for business travel. Our customers, across our FCM and Corporate Traveller brands, are telling us that safe movement of their people is now essential to their business survival and although the changes from July 19 are very welcome, the complexity of the current testing regime is a significant barrier for business travellers and their employers who are trying to get people safely back on the road.

“Companies need to travel for business as they rely on vital face-to-face interaction to forge new deals, close sales, and shore up existing customer relations in overseas markets. With that in mind, we implore the government to spend the next month finding a way for fully vaccinated business travellers from the US and EU to enter the UK with fewer restrictions. This is essential to individual companies; it is vital for the airlines, hotels and everyone else in the supply chain. And it’s vital for the UK economy.”

Andrew Crawley, American Express Global Business Travel Chief Commercial Officer
“We wholeheartedly welcome that double vaccinated British residents will be able to return to the UK from an amber country without having to quarantine from July 19. Government should now actively engage with airlines to execute the changes to avoid overwhelming UK Border Force.

“It is, however, disappointing that this announcement excludes overseas visitors, including business travellers as any quarantine requirement will hinder a return to travel and trade.

“We urge the Government to embrace the emerging global protocol of exempting all fully vaccinated travellers from quarantine requirements. The technology is already in place through the EU Digital Travel Pass and VeriFLY in the US so there is no reason why we cannot act. 

“Every day counts, and we risk lagging even further behind our EU counterparts who have taken steps to permit the entry of all double vaccinated travellers without quarantine. We cannot afford to wait.”

Jason Oshiokpekhai, Managing Director of Global Travel Collection UK
“While this is a positive step in the right direction for the overall travel industry, the UK Government is failing to address the reopening of key business routes between the UK and the US which is what our global economy is waiting for.

“It has been weeks since the so-called Atlantic Charter was established yet why are we no further forward? The US sits static on the Amber list as a gesture but there is no tangible benefit without a focussed and urgent approach to really reopening these routes.

“The cost of testing is still far too high – especially for those who have been double vaccinated. The UK Government had pledged to continue to drive down the costs of testing but real price reductions haven’t yet materialised and we are still navigating different approaches within the devolved nations when it comes to testing. This does nothing to incentivise and restore confidence in our industry.

“Furthermore, the UK Government needs to work collaboratively with other countries to create smooth processes for travellers to ensure travel is clear and easy to navigate. Having just thirty countries recognise our NHS vaccination certification is not anywhere near good enough and the UK Government needs to do more to mitigate confusion for travellers as the world begins to reopen.”

Abby Penston, CEO Focus Travel Partnership
“The announcement (on amber-listed arrivals no longer requiring quarantine) is tremendously welcome to business travel and we expect it will jump start our sector. However, this is not a return to normality.

“Business travellers, who are residents, from amber countries still have to self-isolate when they arrive in the UK and it does not sound like they will be exempt from these measures until later in the summer. We understand the need for a safe and responsible return to travel – and this is a start – but I fear the reasons for these delays are administrative and political, which means a recovery is being hobbled. So we were disappointed that the Transport Secretary evaded the request to extend furlough for our sector.

“US routes are key for our sector – pre-pandemic they made up over 30% (32%) of turnover for Focus Travel Partnership TMC businesses – and ensuring these routes are fully up and running will be essential to revival.”