“The government needs to realize the damage its policies are causing to the UK travel industry and the impact they will have on the wider economic recovery,” Travel Association CEO Mark Tanzer said in a statement. “A shrunken vacation industry is a shrunken aviation industry with fewer routes and fewer flights. That’s not how you get a global Britain,” he added.
Despite one of the most successful vaccine deployments in the world, the UK government has kept a series of travel requirements in place for visitors and Britons wishing to leave the country.
Travelers are required to undergo expensive coronavirus tests before leaving and upon returning to England, even if they are fully vaccinated and are traveling from countries considered to be at low risk for coronavirus by the government. Anyone arriving from a high-risk country is required to self-quarantine for 10 days in a hotel at their own expense.
By comparison, EU citizens who are doubly vaccinated were able to travel to Europe without having to be tested for months, according to the Travel Association. “The government’s overly cautious travel requirements have led the UK to lag behind its European competitors,” he added.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Heathrow was Europe’s busiest airport, handling a record 80.9 million passengers in 2019.
It now ranks behind big rivals such as Schiphol in Amsterdam, Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Frankfurt International, as well as smaller airports in Turkey and Russia.
Passenger numbers fell 71% in August compared to the same month in 2019, and cargo volumes were 14% lower. Some EU competitors reached pre-pandemic freight volumes at the end of 2020, according to Heathrow Airport.
Data from Airports Council International Europe shows Heathrow handled less than 3.9 million passengers in the first half of this year, a 90% reduction from 2019.
These numbers do not bode well for Britain’s ability to regain its status as the world’s tenth most popular destination for international tourist arrivals in 2019. It was also the world’s fourth-largest tourism spending this year. there, behind Germany, the United States and China. and indicating a high number of outgoing travelers, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Heathrow and the Travel Association have called on the UK government to end coronavirus testing for fully vaccinated travelers when reviewing international travel requirements on October 1.
They also want the current “traffic light” system to be reviewed and simplified. The system ranks countries as red, orange or green for the coronavirus with different rules in place for each category.
“The current traffic light system is an outlier and delays the UK government’s global ambitions, giving rivals a competitive edge as the UK loses market share,” Heathrow Airport said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport said the government’s “top priority” was to protect public health and that it regularly reviewed the traffic light system.
“We recognize the difficult times facing the travel industry, which is why we have committed around £ 7bn ($ 9.7bn) in support by September 2021 and continue to work with the industry to help them get through this difficult time, ”added the spokesperson.
The World Travel and Tourism Council estimated in July that the lack of inbound international visitors to the UK was costing the economy £ 639million ($ 889million) per day.
“2021 may not be better than the previous one [year] for the travel and tourism sector [in the United Kingdom], despite the incredibly successful deployment of the vaccine, “WTTC President Julia Simpson said in a statement earlier this month.
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