February 22, 2024

Industry ‘devastated’ and ‘exasperated’ by latest travel update

The travel industry has reacted with dismay and disappointment to the Government’s latest update on travel restrictions from the UK.

Seven countries – Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka – have been added to the red list and Portugal has moved from green to amber.

Here’s how the industry reacted:

British Airways: “This is incredibly disappointing and confusing news, not just for aviation but also for our customers. The UK has reached a critical point and urgently needs travel with low-risk countries, like the U.S, to re-start the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones.

“With high levels of vaccinations in the UK being matched by other countries, we should see the UK Government adding destinations to ‘green’ as soon as possible – not turning its back on a traffic light model which we were led to believe was based firmly on scientific data.”

Martin Ferguson, American Express Global Business Travel, Vice President of Public Affairs: “The entire travel industry, across business and leisure, rightly feels exasperated by today’s news. The government has a tough job but the entire travel supply chain needs better clarity and more action.

“We expect international travel and trade will be on the G7 agenda next week. The UK government must use its presidency to lead international collaboration on globally-accepted digital travel certification standards that will enable the safe reopening of vital international trade routes.”

Scott Pawley, ​Managing Director Global Travel Management: “Grant Shapps doesn’t dictate to companies whether they need to travel – they take these decisions themselves. If a business needs to travel, it will. Moving countries between traffic light bands will simply add dead costs to companies undertaking essential travel.

“Few industries have worked harder to ensure customers are safe than the international travel industry. These added restrictions are costly, confusing and risk UK PLC’s recovery.

“The message should be to take holidays in green list countries and carry on travelling to amber countries if your business relies on it. We’re making progress, let’s not continue pushing back the recovery.”

Clive Wratten, CEO of the BTA: “This announcement has effectively closed UK borders. It is imperative now that the Government extends the furlough scheme for our sector. We are being prevented from operating on any scale whatsoever and need targeted support if we are to survive.”

BAPLA Acting General Secretary Brian Strutton: “This decision is a total disaster for the already fragile travel industry and is likely to lead to further airline failures and many more job losses.

“We understand that safety comes first, but with vaccination programmes going well in many countries, it seems the government is ignoring the evidence and is allowing safe countries to languish in the amber and red categories for no valid reason.

“Any shred of public confidence is in tatters and the traffic light system seems stuck on red. Our airlines need this summer season if they are to survive.”

Jason Oshiokpekhai, Managing Director of Global Travel Collection UK: “No additions to the green list represents a grave set of consequences for the industry as we enter into, what should have been, our best chance of recovery in the wake of the pandemic. The news is met with particular frustration as data points towards many destinations meeting the criteria of the green list, a system we were assured would be based on science. We urgently need a globally coordinated and recognised, comprehensive system that stabilises customer confidence and reduces the chaotic circumstances our industry navigates through on a daily basis.

“We are now in a place where 75% of our adult population has received a vaccination, with other countries on par or progressing at pace. It is absolutely vital that we prepare a collaborative approach to allow passengers to seamlessly transition between destinations above the safety threshold.

“The progressive levels of protection covering the UK and U.S. populations supports the possibility to pioneer a solution through business travel corridors, enabling resumption of vital projects that benefit businesses, industries, jobs and the economy in the UK. As it stands, the UK is at serious risk of becoming completely isolated and we urgently plead for our Government to address this with industry leaders as part of a sustainable, global travel recovery plan.”