The UK government must abandon the “failed and damaging” traffic light system now if it is to save the stricken Travel & Tourism sector from total collapse, says the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
The controversial system, which has wreaked havoc among consumers and Travel & Tourism businesses, needs to be scrapped if there is any hope of saving hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the UK.
WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, says if this doesn’t happen urgently the more businesses will collapse, and more jobs will be lost delaying significantly the country’s economic recovery.
The global tourism body also warned that the UK will lose out on crucial funding, investment, and spending, and that conference investment in the UK is already being pulled and moved to neighbouring European countries.
Furthermore, it says the UK will squander its competitive advantage generated by the successful vaccine rollout.
WTTC advocates enabling fully vaccinated holidaymakers and travellers, and those with proof of a negative test to travel once more to countries with similar, or higher vaccination levels to the UK, and to destinations with proven low-infection rates.
The move to a more transparent and easier to understand approach would restore consumer confidence and provide a much-needed boost to Travel & Tourism businesses which have suffered severe setbacks due to the traffic light system.
Virginia Messina, World Travel & Tourism Council Senior Vice President and Acting CEO, said: “It’s time the government abandoned the hugely damaging traffic lights system.
“Consumers, airlines and the wider travel sector were promised a watchlist and three weeks’ notice of any changes from green to amber, and not just four days. It has been incredibly disruptive and costly for both Travel & Tourism businesses and consumers. It simply hasn’t worked.
“What’s needed now is a watertight government policy enabling those who’ve been fully jabbed to travel freely, and not have to self-isolate on their return.
“Those who are not fully vaccinated should be able to travel with proof of a negative test, like what we are seeing in the EU. The travel sector needs this now if it is to survive this summer as domestic travel alone will not save the day.”
The restoration of free mobility is essential to help drive the economic recovery from the pandemic, with a further 218,000 jobs at serious risk, if international travel continues to be off limits for most of the summer. This is in addition to the 307,000 jobs which were lost in the UK sector last year.
However, WTTC recognises the paramount importance of protecting public health and the need to avoid travelling to countries or destinations with a demonstrably higher COVID-19 rate.
The global tourism body has long advocated that a combination of vaccines, testing, digital health passes and health and safety protocols, can safely unlock international travel.