Travel chiefs call for clarity over when foreign trips can resume

6 April 2021, 06:15

Boris Johnson did not confirm a date for the resumption of foreign trips
Boris Johnson did not confirm a date for the resumption of foreign trips. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Travel industry bosses have called for further detail on when holidays might resume after the Prime Minister refused to confirm they would restart from May 17.

The Prime Minister said last night that he's "hopeful" people will be able to travel abroad from the 17th of May - but claimed it was too early to provide more certainty.

One travel firm boss told LBC: "We can’t afford to lose another summer of holidays."

Boris Johnson said last night: "We don't want to see this virus being re-imported into this country from abroad. Plainly there is a surge in other parts of the world. We have to be mindful of that and we have to be realistic."

He said he was "hopeful" that foreign travel could begin again on 17 May, but that more data was needed before a firm decision could be taken.

Heathrow Airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: "Now that a safe, scientifically-backed process has been agreed upon, a clearer timeline for the return to international travel is needed."

He added that the announcement of a "risk-based approach" with information on how testing and vaccine rollouts will facilitate travel was welcome.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said the industry "needs more certainty".

He went on: "Government cannot keep kicking the can down the road as hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk.

"It needs to urgently put in place safe solutions to travel for business, leisure and to see family."

Clive Wratten, boss of trade body the Business Travel Association, said: "Today's announcement from the Prime Minister is beyond disappointing.

"We are leading the way in vaccination and science. This is a cause of huge celebration, but if we are to restart our economy, we need to have a clear pathway to international travel and trade.

"This has once again been kicked down the road."

He added: "The business travel industry continues to be crippled by today's lack of movement."

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee commented: "It is disappointed that the initial update from the Prime Minister continues to suggest significant barriers to international travel and may push back the date of restart beyond 17 May."

Tim Alderslade, boss of Airlines UK, an industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said: "Whilst we support the establishment of a framework for restarting international travel and welcome the removal of self-isolation for arrivals from green countries, today's announcement does not provide the clarity we were seeking on the road map back towards normality.

"We await further details but the measures indicated, including the potential for multiple tests for travellers even from 'green countries', will prevent meaningful travel even to low-risk destinations."

Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said: "The Government's plans to use a traffic light system to safely restart international travel will be welcome news to both industry and holidaymakers, but crucial details are still outstanding.

"With mandatory testing set to continue for all destinations, the cost of private tests mean millions risk being priced out of travel - so the Government must urgently look at ways to reduce these costs before it reopens international travel."

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of trade union the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said: "We were expecting an update on international travel today, but the Prime Minister has kicked that down the road, dashing hopes across our travel trade.

"Our travel trade badly needs certainty going forward.

"After almost a whole year of shut down, our travel trade is in a desperate state, with jobs and businesses lost or suffering."

Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound - a trade body representing the inbound tourism sector, commented: "When the taskforce's full report is published on April 12 we need to see a robust four-nation approach to reopening and the intention to develop bilateral and multilateral travel agreements with valuable international markets such as the US.

"A stop-start restart is one of the biggest threats to our sector and it's therefore crucial that Government implements the recommendations of the taskforce and continues its dialogue with industry, which will aid consumer confidence to travel to and holiday in the UK."