Working closely with destinations to help our Members
The positive developments around testing last week have put a spring in the industry’s step with reports of increased bookings as pent-up demand converts to holiday sales.
These are really encouraging signs, but I know they will be greeted with cautious optimism by Members. As I said to senior government officials earlier this week, the industry’s recovery is fragile. For many Members, it is not until people take holidays that they will receive much-needed revenue.
While the UK’s restrictions have eased, the Omicron variant is still having a significant impact on destination entry rules which continue to cause problems for many Members and customers. The ABTA destinations team is in regular contact with tourism officials, tourist boards, destination contacts and the Foreign Office, to seek clarity relating to country entry requirements and local restrictions. The team shares the latest travel advice updates with Members via the ABTA operational bulletin service to help keep pace with changing rules.
Today’s confirmation from the French Government that travel from the UK to France will be permitted for vaccinated travellers from tomorrow 14 January 2021 is another positive development. I know this will be a huge relief to many customers and businesses. But we still need the details to understand the full implications for the rest of the ski season. We are in close contact with the authorities to establish the entry requirements, particularly the rules that will apply to children, and will provide Members with further information via operational bulletins.
The change follows a letter we sent to France’s Tourism Minister last week highlighting that restrictions on leisure travel have had a catastrophic impact on the ski season, educational trips, tours and city breaks, not just for those visiting France, but also those who would normally travel overland through France to reach neighbouring countries.
We are also looking ahead to matters which have the potential to affect travel if clear guidance and information is not given by the UK and destination governments, including the concept of who is ‘fully vaccinated’ for travel purposes and clarity on the period of validity for vaccination certification. We also continue to work with destinations on several ongoing issues relating to vaccination requirements, including the need to demonstrate one’s vaccination status to access facilities, as well as seeking clarification from those countries whose borders are closed as to when their restrictions will be lifted.
In our recent submission to the UK Government’s strategic review of international travel, we encouraged the Government to lead international efforts to co-ordinate COVID-19 related travel rules, both bilaterally and through forums such as G7 and G20.
Travel is opening up again, and things are starting to feel more positive, but ABTA will continue to press the UK and international governments to ensure the right conditions are put in place for the industry to trade its way out of the crisis.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive