23 Sep

Good news for travel but more for Government to do

It is very rare to have one piece of good news in the travel industry at the moment – let alone two. Last week we welcomed the Government’s simpler approach to international travel and the reduced testing requirements for people returning to England, and this week the US announced it will be opening its borders to fully-vaccinated travellers from the UK from November.
These changes should put international travel – and the industry – on a more stable footing. We have worked with colleagues across the industry to make the case to the UK Government – and also US Government – on the need to put the right measures in place to open up travel. It is good to see that they have responded to our calls by introducing a system for travel which protects public health without unnecessary burdens on fully-vaccinated passengers.
The evidence and insight ABTA Members have shared with us to make these arguments, as well as your engagement with local MPs and media, have been critical in securing this progress. Thank you for your contributions.
But it is clear the situation we are in is still far from normal; barriers to travel remain. There is still a job to do to impress on Government the need to move countries off the red list, to be transparent about why countries are on the red list and to ensure costs for testing are affordable. We urgently need to know whether the changes to the PCR regime will begin in time for the half-term holidays. We also need to see some movement from the devolved administrations to align their testing policies with that of the UK Government, and we have written to Scotland’s First Minister on that issue this week. We will also continue to work closely with the Foreign Office on its travel advice, particularly where countries move off the red list but advice against travel remains.

We continue to demonstrate the difficulties facing travel agents and tour operators – particularly the smaller, independent companies and specialist long haul operators – following two summers of lost revenue. With the end of furlough next week and the main travel period behind us, there is a real need for tailored financial support for travel businesses and we will continue to make the case for it.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive