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Holidays ‘depend on vaccinations’

The travel industry can’t afford to lose another summer to the pandemic, says ABTA

The transport secretary has warned that holidays this year will depend upon “everybody having their vaccinations”, home and abroad.

In comments that have alarmed the travel sector, Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast that anyone hoping to travel abroad “would have to wait for other countries to catch up”.

However, he later told Sky News: “The truth is we just don’t know how the virus will respond… and, therefore, exactly, when we’ll be able to unlock.

“I’m afraid I can’t give you a definitive ‘will there or will there not be’ the opportunity to take holidays this next year, either at home or abroad.

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“What I do know, right now, thanks to people adhering to the lockdown and thanks to the enormous vaccination programme… we are starting to see those reductions [in levels of Covid).

“But I don’t know what the situation will be by the middle of the summer. Nobody can tell from the point where we sit right now.”

An ABTA spokesperson said: “You can book a summer holiday now with confidence by booking a package holiday through an ABTA member, and many travel companies are also offering additional flexibility to take into account the uncertainty created by the pandemic.”

“If we wait for the full rollout of the vaccination programme in the UK before people start to travel overseas, we’ll lose another summer season to the pandemic – something the travel industry can’t afford. We need a reopening strategy that keeps up with the developing medical situation and with medical understanding, and considers the role of optional vaccine certificates and testing together to open up travel. The Government also needs to provide tailored financial support to help travel businesses through the difficulties they are facing.

“ABTA has tips and advice on how to book with confidence this year at abta.com.”

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive at Advantage Travel Partnership said it demonstrated “a flippant disregard for a sector that is critical to re-establishing a Global Britain”.

She said: “Our connectivity is what has contributed to making the UK a global powerhouse.

“Travel is more than simply holidays. We comprise of thousands of businesses across the country employing millions of people which support both leisure and business travel, who are exasperated and unable to plan for the months ahead.”