Travel bosses blast 'too cautious' Government tourism plans ahead of traffic light system

6 May 2021, 12:31

Executives at BA and other major groups have criticised the Government's tourism plans
Executives at BA and other major groups have criticised the Government's tourism plans. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Key executives in the UK travel industry have criticised the Government over plans to make tourists take Covid tests even when they are fully vaccinated.

The chief executives of BA, Heathrow Airport, easyJet, Manchester Airport Group and Jet2 have attacked the Government for an "overabundance of caution".

In a joint article in The Daily Telegraph, they said forcing holidaymakers to pay £60 per person for a PCR test upon returning from a country listed as "green", or safer than others in a new traffic light system, would jeopardise travel plans.

"Instead of taking advantage of the success of the vaccine programme the Government risks closing the UK off from the rest of the world," they wrote.

"We want to be able to support a safe reopening, but if we are not prepared to accept any risk then travel will never restart and we will not be able to support UK travel and tourism businesses and supercharge the UK's economic recovery."

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The group added: "Travel, even from green countries, will still require arrivals into the UK to take a 'gold-standard' PCR test which, until recently, were costing more than double the European average at over £100 each."

They said the plans do not match the EU's ideas for travel, as the bloc looks to make travel easier.

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Ministers are due to decide on Thursday which countries will be "green" under a traffic light system, with Gibraltar, Malta, Israel, Iceland and potentially Portugal set to be included.

Amber countries, which could include most of Europe, will require visitors to self isolate for 10 days on return and take two PCR tests.

Ministers hope most of Europe will be in the green list by the end of June.

Boris Johnson said this week he wanted to avoid opening the UK up to an "influx of disease" and that the planned reopening on May 17 must ensure the Government "make(s) sure that we don't see the virus coming back in".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has promoted a "careful" approach.