The business travel industry has welcomed a decision by the UK Government to reduce the travel red list from 54 to just seven countries.
South Africa, Mexico and Brazil are among the countries which came off the list on Monday.
Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, said: “This is a fantastic boost for business and leisure travel.
“The Government must now bring us into step with other countries by dropping Day 2 testing requirements and leading the way on international protocols for entry.
“It is only when there is international reciprocity that we can look forward to international business travel catching up with domestic travel levels.”
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “It finally feels like we are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel. Britain will benefit from this significant reduction in red list countries, and now it’s time to turn our attention to eradicating testing for fully vaccinated travellers to ensure we don’t lose our place on the global stage.
“Once we have a firm date for the reopening of US borders in November, we look forward to reconnecting our two countries, reigniting transatlantic businesses and reuniting families who have been separated for the best part of two years. We are ready, and we look forward to operating our first flights and welcoming back our customers.”
Kirsten Hughes, UK Managing Director at Travel Counsellors, said the move was “extremely positive”.
“We have seen huge pent-up demand for countries including South Africa, Thailand and Costa Rica, so we’re very pleased that our leisure customers and business clients will have even more opportunity to travel.”
Martin Ferguson, American Express Global Business Travel’s VP of Public Affairs, said: “The positive momentum on a safe return to international travel continues to boost aviation and travel industry recovery.
“Whilst the UK continues to make significant strides, the prevailing lack of transparency from the US on the lifting of its travel restrictions continues to hinder global economic recovery. We urge the US to give industry advanced notice as to when it will reopen its borders and how its verification and tracing processes will work.”
Professor Denis Kinane, Immunologist and Founding Scientist at Cignpost Diagnostics, warned the Government’s red list decision was a “big step down in Covid protection” because travellers will only need, as a minimum, an unmonitored single Lateral Flow test on arrival.
“We know that Lateral Flow tests are less accurate than the gold standard PCR tests so to rely on that alone seems unwise, particularly as unmonitored lateral flow would be inordinately risky in terms of quality and could be abused,” he said.
“I believe that this strengthens the case that all those returning from abroad should take a ‘monitored’ Lateral Flow test. These can either be an in-person test with a trained swabber at a health centre or a video test where the passenger can swab themselves while being observed online. That would be the best way to continue to protect the country from potentially dangerous new variants.”