ABTA Travel Convention 2022

ABTA outlines case for support and urges govt to take handbrake off international cruising

ABTA has written to transport secretary Grant Shapps to urge the government to open up travel to more destinations – including the resumption of international cruise operations – make foreign travel easier for UK citizens and support the industry through to recovery.

The letter comes ahead of the next government strategic review (31 July) on the requirements for international travel.

ABTA highlighted the need for a  package of tailored financial support for the industry, including an extension of furlough support and business rates relief at current levels, along with a grant scheme to help companies “get through the very difficult weeks and months ahead”.

It added this is vital “given the government’s own acknowledgement that, while all restrictions have been lifted domestically, it is a different case for international travel, which means industry’s recovery is further behind the rest of the UK economy”.

In the letter, the association also raised questions about the government’s recent traffic light decisions to remove the exemption from quarantine for passengers returning from France who have had both vaccinations, arguing changes to the traffic light structure should only happen at strategic review points, and to place the Balearics on the amber list.

The letter called on the government to:

  • Make further progress on testing being more affordable and proportionate, including removing post-arrival testing for green list countries, or at very least use of lateral flow testing for those destinations
  • Add more destinations to the green list, as other countries begin to make significant progress with their own vaccine programme rollouts
  • Resume international cruise in light of the detailed operating protocols for handling Covid-19 which have been put in place and worked successfully in domestic cruising
  • Progress mutual recognition of vaccination certification systems, especially with key markets such as the EU and US
  • Introduce an additional checkpoint review of the requirements for international travel at the end of August – waiting until the end of October is too long during what is such a critical period for the industry

ABTA director of public affairs Luke Petherbridge said: “While there have been some positive developments in recent weeks – most notably that people who have received both vaccinations through the NHS don’t need to quarantine when returning from amber countries – the industry continues to suffer setbacks like the recent changes we have seen to France and the Balearics. Every unexpected change or unexplained decision puts another dent in consumer confidence, which is already fragile.

 “We agree with the aviation minister’s comments earlier this week that the best way of supporting the industry is to enable businesses to trade their way to recovery, but it is increasingly clear that the government is failing to provide the predictability and stability required to rebuild consumer confidence and bring about the necessary conditions for a recovery.

“The government must take action to support the travel industry, which is not only important in terms of jobs and contributions to the economy, but also the UK’s wider recovery from the pandemic. We’re a global nation and our international connectivity underpins this.”

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