Travel industry leaders have been lining up to lambast the government for the tightening of the screws on leisure travel – moving Portugal from the quarantine-free “green list” to the “amber list”, requiring multiple tests and self-isolation, and adding popular destinations including Costa Rica, Egypt and Trinidad & Tobago to the “red list”.
These are some of the most angry.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive, Ryanair
“This is sadly further evidence that the Johnson government just makes it up as they go along, and this stop-go-stop approach to international travel is damaging for the UK and for millions of UK families.
“Ryanair calls today on Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps to immediately return Portugal to the green list, and add those other low-risk destinations such as Malta, the Balearics and the Canary Islands, so that British families can plan their holidays for summer 2021 without being repeatedly disrupted and mismanaged by Boris Johnson and his chaotic government.”
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive, Advantage Travel Partnership
“With Portugal now having been added to the amber list, we are stuck in what can only be described as a travel déjà vu. We have been clear from the outset that countries falling off the list at short notice creates anxiety, confusion, dents consumer confidence and throws up huge operational challenges for travel agents and the industry.
“When Boris Johnson announced the UK’s roadmap to recovery, he stated that the approach would be ‘cautious but irreversible’. Clearly, the same approach has not been taken for international travel despite the work of the Global Travel Taskforce.
“We are left dealing with a government who seems to have forgotten its travel industry exists.”
Steve Heapy, CEO, Jet2.com and Jet2holidays
“When you apply the government’s own criteria for making decisions about travel, we simply cannot understand why more destinations across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands are not allowed to open to UK holidaymakers.
“We are now calling for complete openness and transparency when it comes to the data, so that customers and the industry can really understand what is driving these decisions.
“Despite all the evidence and data showing that travel can restart safely and at scale, the UK continues to remain largely grounded whilst the rest of Europe opens up.
“Our customers want nothing more than to get away on their much-needed holidays and our colleagues want nothing more than to give customers the holiday they deserve. We know international travel can restart safely, so we urge the government to urgently reconsider its approach and work with the industry to help us achieve that.”
João Fernandes, president, Algarve Tourism
“We are bitterly disappointed to be moved to the amber list. In the Algarve region we host two-thirds of the British overnight hotel stays in Portugal. And since the start of the pandemic the Algarve has had the lowest number of cases and better indicators than the rest of the country.
Our hotels, tour operators and airline partners will also once again be put in a difficult situation, trying to plan around these ever-changing rules. For holiday makers it is an impossible situation trying to book a holiday overseas.
“We hope they will rearrange their holiday to the Algarve for later in the year rather than cancel completely.”
Charlie Cornish, chief executive, Manchester Airports Group
“It is now clear the government doesn’t trust its own system and that international travel is being unfairly scapegoated, with tens of thousands of jobs placed at risk in the process.
“Low-risk destinations continue to be left off the green list despite clear evidence they are safe to visit. With case rates lower than the UK, we simply cannot understand why the likes of the Balearics, the Canaries and some Greek islands do not fall into that category.
“We’re stuck with a system that is clearly not fit for purpose and will deny people the opportunity to travel abroad safely this year.
“The lack of transparency is shocking and totally unacceptable. If the government has information that supports its decisions, then it needs to publish it. We have repeatedly asked for this data, but we are being left in the dark about how it is making these choices, with no opportunity for scrutiny or challenge.”
Tim Alderslade, CEO, Airlines UK
“This is no way to treat passengers. The government promised a green watchlist to avoid this very scenario of people being stranded overseas – where is it?
“This decision just adds to the belief that ministers don’t actually want international travel this summer, and want to cut off the UK from the rest of the world despite the success of the vaccination programme.
“If that is the case they should be open and tell us rather than leading us and our customers further down this painful merry dance.
“The vaccine dividend we had built up has now been eroded, and the UK will fall further behind the rest of the EU who are safely opening up their tourism sectors and removing restrictions for vaccinated passengers.” –
Andrew Flintham, managing director, Tui UK
“The government decision to move Portugal straight from green to amber will do untold damage to customer confidence.
“Unlike other European countries and despite multiple requests, the government has refused to be transparent about the data requirements for green, amber and red destinations.
“We must see the methodology so we can help our customers and plan our operations accordingly. There are destinations around the world with little or no Covid-19 cases and good vaccination rates, so we need to understand why these remain on the amber list.”
Mark Tanzer, chief executive, Abta, the travel association
“The government’s domestic health strategy is continuing to prevent any meaningful resumption of international travel.
“You can’t build the recovery of a multi-billion-pound sector while mass-market holiday destinations remain off the green list. The removal of Portugal comes on the back on what was already a very short and cautious green list.
“Travel agents and tour operators haven’t been able to generate income since the start of the pandemic and have been depending on the return of international travel to help bring in some much needed relief.”
John Holland-Kaye, chief executive, Heathrow Airport
“The entire point of the Global Travel Taskforce was to establish a system to unlock low-risk travel safely. Britain is the worst performing economy in the G7, and in the week that the prime minister hosts G7 leaders to launch his government’s vision of Global Britain, he’s sending a message that the UK will remain isolated from the rest of the world and closed to most of its G7 partners.”
Anonymous airline chief executive who asked not to be named
“The promised early warning system and briefings to industry have been replaced by leaks to the Daily Mail. It’s totally unacceptable. And as government have steadfastly refused to publish the criteria on which these decisions are made, it means they are cannot be held to account in any way.”
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