11 Jun

Beyond quarantine

This is the first week of the Government’s quarantine regime for inbound passengers. This measure has been vehemently criticised by the travel, tourism and aviation sectors as potentially ruinous. ABTA has been a leading voice in calling for a clear statement on quarantine arrangements, and the likely timeframe for relaxing the restrictions. Without that, customers will be reluctant to book holidays, travel businesses unable to plan their programmes, and we risk delaying recovery even further, potentially losing the peak summer season altogether. 

The quarantine rules have been badly conceived, badly executed, and badly communicated. If we are to have a successful travel and tourism sector, beyond the immediate crisis and into the future, the Government needs to change its approach completely. We need a ‘roadmap’ for our sector. 

What does that entail? It means aligning travel restrictions, whether within the UK or as defined by FCO travel advice. It means having proper risk assessment of individual destinations, in terms of prevailing contagion rates, and mitigating public health measures. It means having a strategy for fast, mass testing that will reduce risk and allow people to escape the need for unnecessary quarantining, either leaving or arriving into the UK. It means having a data strategy for individuals and the country that will enable us to identify and isolate a recurrence of COVID-19 or another future pandemic at an early stage. It means having a communication plan that takes people on the health journey together. And most of all it means Government departments talking to each other, and talking to us now –travel organisers, surface transport providers, airports, and airlines – to come up with a blueprint for the future, and an action plan.

This week marks the momentous and deeply-felt reaction to the death of George Floyd. Black Lives Matter reminds us that prejudice and racism are not an ‘over-there’ problem, but something that surrounds us all, and which we have a duty to resist and fight. We all support and work in the travel industry, and can work together to open minds that would otherwise be closed.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive