“Too little, too late”: the travel industry attacks traffic light changes
The travel industry has widely reacted angrily to the latest round of UK arrivals changes – Brittany Ferries describing the relaxed travel restrictions as “too little and too late to save our summer season”.
France’s controversial “amber plus” status will end Sunday 8 August at 4 am, as will the “red list” of India, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar.
Seven European nations have moved from the ‘orange list’ to the low risk ‘green list’ – although not all are open to UK visitors.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said: “While we must remain cautious, today’s changes are reopening a range of different vacation destinations around the world, which is good news for the industry and travelers. travelers. “
But by the time the changes take effect, France, the second most popular holiday destination (after Spain) for British holidaymakers, will have spent 20 days with a mandatory quarantine in place.
The UK government has taken a tougher line on France than other countries in the European Union over fears of the beta variant – prevalent on Reunion Island.
Nigel Wonnacott of Brittany Ferries said: “This is great news, but too little and too late to save our summer season.
“Most people have already canceled their summer vacations in France, thanks to the chaotic and baseless implementation of self-quarantine for returning travelers.”
Abta, the travelers’ association, accused the government of “not taking full advantage of the successful deployment of the vaccine.”
Managing Director Mark Tanzer said: “The UK is lagging behind our European competitors and the opening up of international travel from the UK is progressing at a snail’s pace, making it extremely difficult for them. Travel agents and tour operators generate enough income to jumpstart a recovery, which is desperately needed to protect jobs, businesses and livelihoods. “
The consistently high cost of testing – typically adding £ 100 to the cost of a trip – has been attacked by Johan Lundgren, managing director of easyJet.
“The government needs to urgently tackle this costly testing regime which adds unnecessary costs, especially for fully vaccinated people,” he said.
“No one wants to see theft once again become the preserve of the rich – especially when so many people need to get away or get together after so long.”
Tim Alderslade, Managing Director of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK registered carriers, called the changes “another missed opportunity”.
He said: “International travel has had nothing like the reopening they hoped for. This puts us at odds with our European neighbors and clearly does not represent the liberation of aviation that the Prime Minister spoke about.
“Along with continuing expensive testing and a much smaller than hoped-for expansion of the green list – which makes less sense day by day given where we are with the immunization program – this is still a challenge. another blow to the sector. “
Paul Charles, managing director of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “The government is also failing to overcome the barriers that prevent consumers from booking, namely not giving a week or more notice. before a country goes orange or red and the high cost of expensive tests.
“Until these issues are resolved, the government will deliberately continue to lock up travel.”
A pro-government voice was Charlie Cornish, managing director of Manchester Airports Group.
He said: “We welcome the movement of more countries towards the Green and Amber Lists, in what is in effect the final revision of the traffic light lists before the end of the summer recess.
“With the new freedoms for fully immunized travelers, these changes will allow more people to enjoy vacations or reconnect with friends and family, in a growing list of countries.
“It is encouraging to finally see decisions that reflect the evidence on the ground in these destinations and that close the gap with the approach taken in other countries.
“The government must now seize this opportunity to develop a stable, sustainable and affordable system that gives people the confidence to book in advance during the winter and next year. “
Clive Wratten, Managing Director of the Business Travel Association, said: “Opening up routes to the Middle East is of particular importance for business travel.
“It will take some time for business travel to pick up on a large scale, but it allows our industry to once again contribute to UK GDP and our country’s international business reputation.”