The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), the professional body for travel agents and the travel sector in Scotland today (April 9) welcomed the initial outline of the Global Travel Task Force plans.
In a statement, the SPAA said: “For the first time, the message from the government transport secretary Grant Shapps is a positive one. There is a roadmap for how international travel will be restarted and travellers are being given some detail around what travelling abroad will look like. The Global Task Force on travel has included many of the elements of our SPAA submission to the group such as the green, amber and red traffic lights system.
“The SPAA has always lobbied for a four nations approach to international travel as we believe this is essential to facilitating any proposed new systems for the UK. Currently, the advice being given today is for travellers to and from England, and in our meetings next week with the Scottish Aviation Working Group we will be urging that Scotland follows suit.
“Understandably, the countries which will be on the green list have not been announced, so it’s too early to say what impact this will have immediately on bookings for summer 2021, especially since the ‘green list’ countries have not been announced. However, we anticipate that those travelling to visit family or for business purposes will welcome today’s news and will have confidence to book long awaited trips.
“We have some initial reservations on cost and availability of testing, the traffic light system and how vaccination passes will work operationally.
“Our chief concern is the requirement for a PCR test and the costs associated with this. PCR testing is currently an expensive option which will place financial strain on families who travel together. Many of our clients are still trying to take holidays postponed from 2020 and paid for back in 2019. They had no way of knowing that their holiday cost would have to include hundreds of pounds worth of testing. We’re hopeful that, as Grant Shapps has said this morning, the task force will use the time between now and 16 May to look at affordability and availability. We would like to see the cost of this driven down or alternative forms of acceptable testing such as antigen and lateral flow.
“We’re very keen to hear how the digital vaccination pass will work in practice. With just over a month to go until ‘take off’ travel agents and travellers do need to know how this will be implemented and what this will mean for anyone in their group who has not been vaccinated, for example due to age or underlying health conditions, as well as how someone can prove that they have had Covid and have immunity.
“The traffic light system has to have clarity and we all need to know the data which will place each country in green, amber or red and importantly what will trigger the move from one category to another. This should be published so that travel agents can advise their clients from a position of knowledge. Moreover, this should be an internationally agreed system as currently this is only one side of the equation and travellers also need to know all the regulations for entry to their destination country.”