Travel industry reacts with fury at latest travel advice

Airlines and travel firms reacted with dismay to the latest Government guidance on foreign holidays.

Many were angry at the lack of consultation and said it risked the summer being ruined for the struggling sector.

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: “Ministers spent last month hailing the restart of international travel, only to close it down three weeks later all but guaranteeing another lost summer for the travel sector.

“Everyone wants to protect public health, but the entire point of the Global Travel Taskforce was to establish a system to unlock low-risk travel safely. Britain is the worst performing economy in the G7, and in the week that the Prime Minister hosts G7 leaders to launch his Government’s vision of Global Britain, he’s sending a message that the UK will remain isolated from the rest of the world and closed to most of its G7 partners.

“If the Government is serious about protecting UK jobs and supporting businesses across the country, rapid action is needed to reopen flights to key trading partners, remove testing for vaccinated passengers from ‘green’ countries, and slash the cost and complexity of testing, as other G7 countries are doing.”

Package holiday firm TUI UK was equally scathing, claiming the Government broke promises to the industry.

Andrew Flintham, manging director for TUI UK, said: “This latest announcement is another step back for our industry.

“After promises that the Global Travel Taskforce would result in a clear framework, removing the damaging flip flopping we all endured last summer, the Government decision to move Portugal straight from green to amber will do untold damage to customer confidence.

“We were reassured that a green watch list would be created and a weeks’ notice would be given so travellers wouldn’t have to rush back home. They have failed on this promise.”

He added that the UK Government has refused to be transparent about the data requirements for green, amber and red destinations and said the industry must see the methodology for the decisions.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick chief executive, said: “It is bitterly disappointing news for our impacted passengers and airlines that Portugal is to be added to the “amber” list from next week while no further destinations are being opened up for “green” travel.

“While it is in all of our interests to ensure that we only take forward steps out of the pandemic, we hope that the rest of Europe follows the UK’s speed of public vaccination so that safe and easy travel to and from the UK becomes a reality quickly, particularly as travel between mainland European countries is opening up already.”

Business group the CBI said the move would hit other sectors linked to the travel industry.

John Foster, CBI director of policy, said: “The limited number of destinations on the green list means that businesses across the country are losing out on key links with trading partners just as the rest of the world is opening up.

“Of course, the UK mustn’t jeopardise the strides made through the vaccine programme, but the international travel sector is on its knees and unable to trade its way to recovery.

“Without a successful summer season, the government will need to consider further sector specific support to save jobs and skills essential for future growth.

“Travel policy needs to effectively prevent the spread of Covid from potential ‘red’ list countries, but also safely allow for more travel from lower-risk destinations. This could help boost business travel, fuelling growth by reconnecting firms with global markets.”