14 Dec

ABTA calls for relaxation of testing requirements, and financial support, as Government removes countries from the red list

The Government has announced that it is removing 11 countries from the red list, which were originally added to slow down the introduction of the Omicron variant to the UK. 
Mark Tanzer Chief Executive of ABTA – The Travel Association said:
“The removal of countries from the red list is a sensible step.  However, the Government has always been clear that once the Omicron variant is widespread across the UK there would be little rationale for retaining any restrictions on international travel, so the Government must explain why temporary testing requirements have been retained until the first week of January. 
“With the testing measures now extending over the Christmas and New Year period, and the industry quickly approaching peak-booking season for summer 2022, travel businesses are facing a very serious situation. Consumer confidence in travel has suffered a significant setback, which will outlast these restrictions. The Government must acknowledge this by bringing forward grant support to help businesses through the difficult weeks ahead. Almost two years into this crisis, there has still been no business support from the Treasury to address directly the impact on UK businesses of the Government’s travel restrictions.
“We also need the Government to focus on providing the stability that is essential to rebuild consumer confidence in the longer-term. This must include a robust plan to deal with future variants, developed with public health experts and the industry. As part of this there should be transition arrangements for the red list – which would enable people overseas when decisions are taken to place a country on the red list to complete self-isolation at home, along with additional testing measures, to avoid costly quarantine - as well as moving away from pre-departure testing, which is the single greatest barrier to getting people travelling again."
Recent research from ABTA – The Travel Association revealed the impact of the pandemic on the sector and lack of financial support from government:

  • Employment across the travel industry has halved since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
  • The volume of new bookings taken across summer and autumn 2021 is, on average, 28% compared to the same period in 2019.