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Travel sector holding day of action in response to restrictions

·3-min read

The UK’s travel industry is holding a day of action to put pressure on the Government to reopen the sector and provide tailored financial support to businesses.

Industry body Abta estimates that 195,000 travel jobs have been lost during the coronavirus pandemic or are at risk.

It accused ministers of failing to deliver a restart to travel, by “undermining” the traffic light system.

There are no viable major tourist destinations on the quarantine-free green list, and the Government has urged people to avoid holidays to locations on the amber list.

Abta estimated that 800 people – including travel agents, pilots and cabin crew – will gather outside the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday.

Some 200 will meet at an event in Holyrood, Edinburgh, 100 will assemble in Belfast, and a virtual meeting will take place for campaigners in Wales.

The day of action is aimed at persuading the Government to expand the green list, and remove testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers returning from green and amber locations.

It also wants a package of tailored financial support introduced, such as extending the furlough scheme until April 2022.

Derek Jones, boss of luxury travel firm Kuoni, said: “The outbound travel sector has been decimated by this pandemic and by the Government’s haphazard response to it.

“Today, we have joined together to call upon ministers to acknowledge that the restrictions they have placed on international travel are having a deep and devastating impact on travel businesses.

“We are united in one message today: we want to see the safe reopening of international travel alongside targeted financial support for businesses which have not been able to trade for well over a year.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK – a trade body representing UK carriers, said: “It is now or never for the Government to reopen travel and save what is remaining of the summer season, not just for families desperate to get away but the tens of thousands of jobs which rely upon this once thriving sector.

“Airlines are at the absolute limit of what they can borrow and without a genuine reopening this summer they will require Government support to survive.”

Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, commented: “Today’s day of action highlights the dire straits of our industry.

“The travel sector remains in lockdown as the rest of the country opens up.

“Business travel is essential for the UK economy and our ability to trade on the international stage.

“The Government must provide targeted support and extend the green list at its next review.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “Our international travel policy is guided by one overwhelming priority: protecting public health.

“Decisions on traffic light allocations take into account a range of factors including genomic surveillance capability, transmission risk and variants of concern, with data behind decisions to move countries on the list published online.

“We keep all measures under review and continue to engage with industry and international partners to explore how we can open international travel safely. Both tailored and wider economic support is still available to the sector, including the furlough scheme.”

The Government is scheduled to update its travel lists on Thursday, before a “checkpoint” review of the rules for each tier takes place on Monday.

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