'Coordinated' travel plan needed, ABTA warns

A “coordinated plan” for restarting international travel is needed, the industry body for travel agents has told the UK Government, enabling businesses and consumers to plan ahead.

Passenger Sarah Hartstein arrives at Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London, as new quarantine measures for international arrivals come into force.

In a letter to the Home Secretary, ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer has warned of the serious impact quarantining restrictions will have on customer demand for holidays and business trips, and highlighted the serious knock-on impacts the measures will have on the UK economy beyond the wider transport and tourism industries.

The association draws attention to the need for the Government to indicate its criteria for transitioning away from current Foreign Office advice against non-essential travel. ABTA is also asking the Government to urgently investigate travel corridors to establish transport links with countries identified as having appropriate levels of infection risk, as well as to publish the scientific and epidemiological advice that underpin the quarantining policy.

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Mr Tanzer’s letter warns that travel is facing a “prolonged period of recovery” and states that the industry’s ability to bounce back will be dependent on several interlinking factors, including the return of consumer confidence and demand for travel, the establishment of commonly recognised health and safety protocols and support for the travel insurance industry to ensure adequate cover is available to travellers. He said that this will require a “strategic, cross-departmental approach” from the Government.

ABTA has called for a coordinated approach to restart international travel.

He said: “We must restart international travel as soon as it is safe to do so, and businesses and customers would benefit from the Government outlining when this is likely to happen. There are many livelihoods at stake, and bookings will only start to pick-up in earnest when people and businesses have a better idea as to what the Government’s plan is to open up the UK and access to international destinations. This is going to take a coordinated approach, and ABTA will continue to do whatever it takes to assist with this process on behalf of travel agents and tour operators across the UK who are desperate for a clearer direction for travel.

“Of course, safety must absolutely come first, which is why the Government also needs to set out clearly the relevant scientific advice and epidemiological factors informing decisions, including the quarantining policy before its review in three weeks.”

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