Industry offers broad support to England reopening plans | News


The hospitality sector has given warm support to a loosening of travel restrictions announced by the government.

From Monday, travellers from the European Union and United States will be able to avoid quarantine when arriving in England.

The cruise sector has also been given the go ahead to relaunch international sailings.

In response to the news, Virginia Messina, acting chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said: “The sector – and the UK economy – will get a huge boost following news that fully-vaccinated US and EU visitors will at last be able to travel quarantine-free to England.

“The cruise industry will breathe a sigh of relief that the crucial relaunch of international cruise departures from England has been given the green light, giving hope to a sector which has struggled to stay afloat.

“It also throws a vital lifeline to airlines and businesses throughout the sector, by helping to restore much-need transatlantic travel and essential links to the EU.

“However, unless it is reciprocal and the US responds with a similar move, we won’t see the full benefit.”

WTTC research shows US visitors to the UK contributed more than more than £4 billion to the economy in 2019, underlining the importance of transatlantic travel.

“We urgently need internationally coordinated action to reopen borders to safe international travel for all visitors who are fully vaccinated or can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test,” added Messina.

An ABTA spokesperson welcomed the move, but said it was merely the start of a longer journey.

A statement explained: “The industry is not out of the woods and there is more that needs to be done to support travel businesses through to recovery.

“We know the sector is facing a more gradual relaxation of restrictions than the domestic economy, and we need to see a tailored package of support measures to recognise that, including ongoing furlough and income support schemes, full business rates relief, and consideration of tailored grants schemes.

“We also need to see the government make further progress on making testing more affordable and proportionate, and we need to see more destinations added to the green list at the next review.

“We are still seeing other countries reopen more quickly than the UK and we need to capitalise on the success of the vaccine rollout by getting our international travel industry moving again.”

With regard to the cruise sector, Nick Stace, chief executive of Saga Travel, said the reopening would allow for the market to rebound.

He said: “We are pleased that the government has confirmed that restrictions will lift on international cruising.

“The entire cruise industry has been working closely with government to reach this point and it is a huge boost to receive the news that we will once again be able to welcome guests on non-domestic voyages.

“Ensuring the safety of our guests and crew is our number one priority and we’ve worked tirelessly to create the safest possible environment on-board our ships.

“Our customers have been eagerly awaiting certainty from government so they can plan their cruises beyond UK shores and this news will give them the clarity they need to do that.” 

In terms of aviation, Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport, said the cost of testing would remain prohibitive for many.

“The cost of PCR tests remains prohibitive for many and should be replaced by cheaper, quicker lateral flow tests for those who have been double vaccinated, as many other countries already rely on,” he said.

“Double vaccinated travellers to designated green countries should also not have to take any tests at all.

“The EU and US aviation sectors opened up earlier and are recovering significantly faster, which is why European travel was already at 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in June compared to just 16 per cent in the UK, despite our more advanced double vaccination rates. 

“We will continue to lose out on trade, tourism and other economic benefits unless the government removes the remaining unnecessary barriers to travel.”

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