Gloria Guevera, President & CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said: “We welcome this first initial step by the UK government to begin opening the door to international travel with the announcement of today’s ‘traffic light’ system.
“However, airlines and the wider Travel & Tourism sector will be hugely disappointed that the U.S., which has a similar vaccination success rate has not been included on the ‘green list’ as it would have enabled the resumption of transatlantic travel, which would have thrown a vital lifeline to the sector in two of the biggest Travel & Tourism markets in the world.
“The UK is the fourth biggest G20 economy in terms of international Travel & Tourism spend from business travel, which amounted to £7.5 billion in 2019, before the pandemic ripped through the heart of the sector.
“While we understand that protecting public health should be the priority, the UK is being too cautious and risks losing its hard-won competitive advantage achieved by the early vaccine rollout by being too slow to allow the significant resumption of international travel.
“Holidaymakers and business travellers will be disappointed by today’s news, with so few countries on the ‘green list’, while Europe steals a march on the UK by continuing to open up and welcome visitors back.
“We are also disappointed that UK travellers are expected to pay for expensive PCR tests, even when traveling from countries on the green list. This will make foreign holidays totally unaffordable for many families.
“We urge the UK government to work with its providers to offer more cost-effective tests for UK travellers, or accept the more affordable yet rapid and effective, antigen tests.
“After suffering the biggest fall in contribution towards GDP from Travel & Tourism of the 10 most important global markets – by a staggering 62.5% – the UK can ill-afford to be this cautious.”