The British Government should look first at how to change the Foreign Office (FCO) advice warning against all but essential international travel before chasing the idea of ‘air bridges’, experts in the travel industry have urged.
Abta, the British travel association, said it welcomed the “idea of agreeing ‘air bridges’ with other nations”, as suggested by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, but added that the introduction of any quarantine measures would have a “damaging impact” on both inbound and outbound tourism.
“It would be helpful if the Government could indicate its criteria for the transition from the current FCO advice against non-essential global travel to the re-opening of travel to destinations,” a spokesperson said.
Justin Wateridge, managing director of tour operator Steppes Travel, said: “If the Government really wants to help, it needs to look at the Foreign Office advice and get a definite time scale for it, rather than this indefinite ban on travel, which is helping nobody when we’re trying to plan with clients. If they want to introduce things like air bridges they need to look at some of the fundamentals first.”
Noel Jospehides, director of Aito, the Association of Independent Tour Operators, asked: “Is this a carefully-considered and workable option? Our fingers have been badly burnt by earlier off-the-cuff comments by Mr Shapps, and this Government, unfortunately, has a record of making grand statements only to retract or change them substantially a day or so later.”
Greece and Portugal have already suggested they would be open to reciprocal agreements with the UK that negate the need for quarantine restrictions, but the UK Government is yet to reveal details on when its quarantine policy might be introduced, how it would work and how long it will last.
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