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Tourism sector ‘breathing a sigh of relief’ after trade deal

Jess Glass, PA
·2-min read

The travel and tourism sector “will be breathing a sigh of relief” after the UK Government agreed a trade deal with the EU, an industry body has said.

The London-based World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) welcomed the news of the agreement “at the 11th hour”.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, continued: “It is good news for a sector which has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic and which feared the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

“Thankfully this worrying outcome has been avoided and now the sector can look ahead to 2021 with more confidence.

“But British holidaymakers could face higher health costs and added red tape. The devil will be in the detail of the deal – and only time will tell what the true consequences are for travellers.”

The travel and tourism sector has been significantly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic which has grounded flights and prompted quarantines all over the world.

Ms Guevara continued: “WTTC stands ready to work closely with governments and other key organisations in Travel & Tourism to help implement testing and WTTC Safe Travels protocols to enable the recovery of the sector.

“We continue to call for the end of crippling quarantines and damaging travel restrictions which will only set back further the economic recovery, and instead replace them with a comprehensive, quick turnaround testing regime on departure.

“This is the only way this sector, which is critical to powering the UK – and the global economy – will survive. ”

British Airways retires 747 fleet
Many flights have been grounded due to the pandemic (Steve Parsons/PA)

UK tourism businesses welcome around 25 million visits each year from the EU, with visitors spending £10.7 billion, according to figures from VisitBritain.

Patricia Yates, the organisation’s director, said: “The announcement of a trade deal between the EU and the UK is a welcome boost for tourism, reassuring visitors on the practicalities of travel so they can plan their trips with confidence and providing long-awaited certainty and clarity for businesses to be able to drive bookings.

“With short-haul European markets forecast to recover quicker than long-haul, it also sends a timely message of reassurance at a critical time for the industry as we work to stimulate demand and bookings to drive the return of international tourism spend.”

The news of the trade deal on Christmas Eve was also welcomed by travel trade organisation Abta.

A spokesperson for the organisation said: “It is vital that we avoid additional uncertainty for the travel industry at a time when businesses are struggling with the impact of Covid-19.

“While there will still be changes, and businesses need to prepare for those, securing a deal will ensure that vital transport links are maintained, and provide at least some basis for the continued entry of tourism workers from the UK into the EU.

“Abta will now be looking closely at the details to understand fully what this means for travel businesses and travellers.”