New regulations that will require travellers coming from abroad to quarantine for two weeks from 8 June, or else risk paying a £1,000 fine, could damage business, according to a warning from holiday and travel firms. They insist that the regulations would both reduce visitor numbers to the UK and make it harder for UK residents to travel aboard.
This emerges just as TUI has been forced to cancel travellers’ booked trips up until 1 July, as the Foreign Office continues to advise against all non-essential travel abroad and asks all UK arrivals to self-isolate at home for two weeks following their return to the country.
The firm’s Marella cruise line has also cancelled all sailings on or before 30 July 2020, with some ships delayed further. “All other holidays are continuing to operate as planned and will be continuously reviewed,” Tui asserted.
Addressing the UK government
“Many people urged the government to impose quarantine regulations during the early phases of Covid-19,” The letter put forward by travel and holiday firms reads. “Instead, no action was taken and flights from many infected countries were allowed to land, making it easy for thousands of potentially affected passengers to spread the virus into the wider UK community.”
The BBC reported that a Home Office spokesperson responded as saying: “As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border. We continue to support businesses in the tourism sector through one of the most generous economic packages provided anywhere in the world. However, it is right that we introduce these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave.”
And while the letter commends the government’s handling of ‘what was an extraordinary and unprecedented situation’, it insists that the early indicators of the economic costs of the government’s actions paint a ‘grim picture’. The letter notes that the UK’s travel and tourism sector accounts for almost four million jobs (about 11 per cent of the country’s workforce).
“The government has done its best to suppress and control the invidious viral contagion but it should not, and must not, exceed its mandate,” the letter continued. “The people of this country do not wish to be prevented from travelling. Quite simply, it is time to switch the emphasis from protection to economic recovery before it is too late.”
Signatories of the letter include the heads of the Ritz, Dorchester and Hyatt Regency London hotels and Der Touristik UK, as well as tourism groups such as Cookson Adventures and Original Travel.
ITIJ notes that even if people are allowed to travel without mandatory quarantining, the travel booking industry cannot be certain that people will still feel confident enough to travel. Health and safety, and just as importantly, peace of mind, will remain an integral focus for customers looking to travel in a post-Covid world. With strict anti-Covid protocols being rolled out in airports and a lingering feeling of anxiety, it still seems unlikely that international travel will regain popularity before domestic travel does. What’s more, as more pre-booked holidays continue to be cancelled, consumer sentiment for travel booking agencies is only likely to worsen. The impact that factors like this will have on the UK’s tourism economy remains to be seen.