“Taskforce needs to focus on decisive and urgent action,” says ABTA.
A new Global Travel Taskforce will accelerate progress on a Covid-19 testing programme, the government has claimed.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, who will speak at The Travel Convention, said: “Following agreement from medical experts, we are moving ahead with the next step to reduce the travel quarantine period by launching the Global Travel Taskforce to open up international travel & boost our businesses.”
“The taskforce will implement a testing regime to reduce the self-isolation period, along with a wide range of other measures to enable travel whilst keeping coronavirus rates down.”
However, according to a report in the Guardian the creation of the taskforce may delay the implementation of a testing regime for at least a month – something that was previously believed to be imminent.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said: “The creation of the Global Travel Taskforce shows a recognition from Government of the need to get people travelling again to support the travel industry, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis.
“The taskforce needs to focus on decisive and urgent action, not only on rapidly introducing a testing regime, but also on moving to a regionalised quarantine approach and lifting the global advisory against travel – returning to providing travel advice for individual countries based on the risk to a traveller in destination.
“Other countries have already moved to introduce testing, and further delays will only serve to exacerbate the industry’s struggles – especially as the winter season is fast approaching. With furlough ending this month, and the new Job Support Scheme doing little to support travel businesses, without tailored support we’ll see more job losses and businesses folding.”
Julia Lo Bue Said, CEO Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “We are now seven months into a pandemic with a government that appears to have no thought-out strategy or concrete timescale on testing for travellers which is creating confusion and frankly utter chaos. While the announcement of a new Global Travel Taskforce is a step in the right direction, it does not alleviate the financial strain and frustration placed on the travel sector at this moment in time, and we need assistance now. The travel industry has been immobilised, we are a key economic driver for so many businesses across so many sectors. We employ hundreds of thousands of people and create huge amounts of tax revenue for the government and yet to date, have been totally side-lined.
“Today we saw that Air Canada is trial testing where 13k travellers were tested on arrival, and then again after seven and 14 days and 98 per cent showed negative results – we welcome forward thinking businesses like this and question why the UK government isn’t thinking along these lines to give our travel industry the tools we need to survive.
“It seems as though this government is hell-bent on keeping the industry on the naughty step, with a complete lack of comprehension on how the industry can survive this crisis. Without help or a clear path to recovery, this will cost the UK economy over £60bn in leisure and inbound activity but over £220bn in business travel that relies on aviation, events and meetings.”