By Bev Fearis, published 3/06/20
Key organisations in the travel sector have joined together to put pressure on the Government to drop the blanket travel ban from the UK and rethink the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Led by Advantage Travel Partnership, the UK’s largest group of independent business and leisure travel agents, the bodies have written to the Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary urging them to take action.
The letter argues the current strategies are too ‘draconian, short sighted and not balanced’ and will deeply damage the travel industry.
Signed by the Business Travel Association, the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, the events and hospitality association HBAA, and the Specialist Travel Association (AITO), the letter says the 14-day quarantine period for UK arrivals is hugely damaging to both the UK inbound and outbound travel sector.
“The prospect of many British citizens having to self-quarantine after a holiday or a business travel trip will severely deter those wishing to travel,” it said.
“While we understand and appreciate the need for safety and establishing who has the virus and who is capable of spreading it, we believe that a robust track and trace system alongside measures identified by IATA through their multi layered restart approach would be much more effective for government strategy and less damaging to the UK travel industry.”
The letter also calls for an immediate and urgent review of the current FCO blanket ban on travel.
“This sweeping ban makes the possibility of travel, even to countries deemed generally to be safe, prohibited and, again, causes untold damage to the UK outbound travel sector,” it said.
Instead, the industry groups believe air bridges with destinations deemed to be COVID-19 safe are the most responsible way to address the balance of ensuring safe travel for business or leisure while at the same time facilitating the much needed recovery of the UK inbound and outbound travel sector.
The letter comes as Ministers confirmed they are already looking at ways to relax the 14-day quarantine rule, which is due to come into force on Monday and is set to be reviewed every three weeks.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the Government would aim to ensure greater freedom longer term, including establishing safe ‘international travel corridors’ with countries deemed to be safe.
But Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, said these should be in place sooner.
“If we leave it until the end of June before getting the first travel corridor in place, be it with Italy, Spain or Portugal, many jobs across the travel industry are at risk of being lost forever,” he said.
“Quarantine crushes the innovation and dynamism that the Home Secretary applauded today. At this desperately difficult time for our industry, she offered no hope to the millions employed across the travel industry and its supply chains.
“All of the country specific criteria required for the implementation of a travel corridor must be published immediately. There must be transparency about why these travel corridors are being delayed.”