ABTA: “This is going to take a coordinated approach”

Following the introduction of a 14-day quarantine for passengers arriving into the UK, and the participation of CEO, Mark Tanzer, in an industry roundtable hosted by the Home Secretary last week, ABTA – The Travel Association has asked the Government to bring forward a coordinated plan for restarting international travel, enabling businesses and consumers to plan ahead.

In a letter to the Home Secretary, Tanzer has reiterated the serious impact quarantining restrictions will have on customer demand for holidays and business trips and highlighted the serious knock-on impacts the measures will have on the UK economy beyond the wider transport and tourism industries.

Mark Tanzer

As part of the call for a roadmap, the Association draws attention to the need for the Government to indicate its criteria for transitioning away from current Foreign Office advice against non-essential travel. ABTA is also asking the Government to urgently investigate travel corridors to establish transport links with countries identified as having appropriate levels of infection risk, as well as to publish the scientific and epidemiological advice that underpin the quarantining policy and which will inform the review due at the end of June.

ABTA makes it clear that travel is facing a prolonged period of recovery, and states that the industry’s ability to bounce back will be dependent on several interlinking factors, including the return of consumer confidence and demand for travel, the establishment of commonly recognised health and safety protocols and support for the travel insurance industry to ensure adequate cover is available to travellers. The Association stresses this will require a strategic, cross-departmental approach from the Government, and welcomes the promise to deliver on this front made by the Home Secretary when making her statement to the House of Commons last Wednesday.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s chief executive, said: “We must restart international travel as soon as it is safe to do so, and businesses and customers would benefit from the Government outlining when this is likely to happen. There are many livelihoods at stake, and bookings will only start to pick-up in earnest when people and businesses have a better idea as to what the Government’s plan is to open up the UK and access to international destinations. This is going to take a coordinated approach, and ABTA will continue to do whatever it takes to assist with this process on behalf of travel agents and tour operators across the UK who are desperate for a clearer direction for travel.

“Of course, safety must absolutely come first, which is why the Government also needs to set out clearly the relevant scientific advice and epidemiological factors informing decisions, including the quarantining policy before its review in three weeks.”

The economic contribution of outbound travel is significant, amounting to over £37 billion (GVA) annually, with travel businesses and their supply chains supporting around 500,000 jobs across the UK. Given the economic importance of the sector, and the role travel plays in supporting employment, as well as facilitating trade between the UK and overseas partners, it is vitally important the Government does all it can to support travel businesses through the current Covid-19 crisis.

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