By Bev Fearis, published 3/06/20
A travel risk expert is calling on the UK Government to relax travel restrictions for business travellers and use them as a trial to prepare Britain for a return to wider mainstream travel.
Lloyd Figgins, Chairman of the TRIP Group (Travel Risk Incident Prevention), said with the right risk management in place, business travellers can travel safely again and be used as pioneers for post-pandemic travel.
In a press statement backed by the Business Travel Association, Figgins said: “Rather than looking at the situation from a commercial perspective, what’s actually required is a risk management approach to getting people travelling again and that’s where the business travel industry comes into play.
“Any return to international travel needs to be staged and thoroughly risk assessed in order that travellers and the public, both at home and abroad, can be best protected.
“Business travellers offer the opportunity to not only be the pioneers for a return to mainstream travel, but also to help restart the international economy. They and their employers are in a unique position and this could be used to help regenerate the industry.”
He said robust travel risk management procedures would need to be in place, including mandating the provision and use of PPE, training on safety protocols, and equipping travellers with testing kits to monitor their health before, during and after a trip.
In the initial stages of any such trial, the numbers of travellers would be relatively low, allowing authorities at ports to establish and trial health and security systems for when volume increases.
Figgins believes business travellers would need to be granted exemptions from quarantine in the destination country, in the same way that truck drivers are currently exempt travelling between the UK and France. But, where possible, upon their return from a business trip, they would work from home for 14 days.
He added: “Only by taking this measured and systematic style of approach can governments and businesses move forward in the fight to get travel moving again. Once a successful trial period has been completed, the industry would have a much better picture of where it is and what the next steps need to be.
“Employers are already in a position to provide comprehensive risk assessments, as well as their emergency response and evacuation plans, in order to reassure travellers of what will happen in the event of a second (or third) wave of COVID19.”
Clive Wrattan, Chief Executive of the Business Travel Association (BTA), agreed that exceptions need to be made to the 14-day quarantine rule to get business travel moving again.
“Business travel would normally contribute £600 million a day to UK GDP; the current 14-day quarantine makes this impossible,” he said.
“We want the industry and government to come together to quickly find a workable solution that safeguards health and promotes economic growth. Creating a travel risk system is a great step towards combining these forces.”
The BTA has joined with other industry bodies to urge the Government to rethink the quarantine plans and relax the blanket travel ban. See more
* The Travel Risk & Incident Prevention (TRIP) Group is an independent think-tank dedicated to improving knowledge, education and awareness of travel risk management. Established in 2017, it now has over 500 member organisations worldwide including Corporations, NGOs, Government Departments, Higher Education and Travel & Tourism.