Praise for scrapping of pre-departure tests from travel sector

Organisations from across the travel industry have welcomed a decision from prime minister, Boris Johnson, to phase out pre-departure tests for arrivals into England.

The move will come into effect on Friday.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and UKinbound led praise for the change.

Julia Simpson, WTTC chief executive, said: “The removal of pre-departure tests and replacing day two PCRs with more affordable antigen testing will significantly boost the UK tourism sector and help both it and the whole UK economy recover much faster than expected.

“The testing measures being removed never actually stopped infections coming in and were a blunt policy which only damaged the travel and tourism sector.”
Joss Croft, UKinbound chief executive, echoed the sentiments.

He said: “The industry will be very pleased to see the removal of onerous pre-departure testing, and the replacement of the day two PCR test with a lateral flow test.

“However, this is not job done.

“January to March is a key booking period for inbound travel and if we are to ensure the successful revival of the valuable inbound tourism industry, our fifth largest export sector, worth £28 billion to the UK economy in 2019, then the government needs to provide a clear roadmap for the removal of all travel restrictions and to signal that the UK will be fully open for business.”

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, called on the government to avoid a repeat of the current situation.

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“The two announcements are potentially very positive for the travel sector, but damage has already been done.

“We now hope to see confidence return as we enter what is usually the peak booking season for summer holidays. 

“We would urge the government to ensure greater stability in the international travel system, including avoiding similar disruption in future, to enable business to recover fully and to rebuild consumer confidence.”

In the airline sector, Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the move would boost confidence.

“The removal of pre-departure testing before travel to the UK and costly PCR testing upon arrival is welcome progress and a necessary step towards frictionless air travel for our customers.

“Travellers can now book with confidence and look forward to reconnecting with loved ones and business colleagues.

“Meanwhile customer demand will be boosted in a critical booking window for the travel industry and vital testing capacity can be reallocated where it is needed the most – in hospitals, schools and crucial national infrastructure,” Weiss explained.

MAG chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said the decision was the start of a journey, rather than the end.

“This announcement is very positive news and will help restart the recovery of the travel and tourism sector.

“The removal of these temporary measures is important recognition that travel restrictions should not remain in place if they no longer help prevent the spread of the virus.

“By removing barriers to travel in what is a critical period for forward-booking, passengers, airports, airlines and business across the UK can now plan ahead with confidence.

“We look forward to working with government on a roadmap for the removal of all remaining restrictions, in order to help our prized aviation sector enjoy a full recovery.”

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