The travel trade in England has given a mixed reception to plans to remove quarantine restrictions on travellers returning from amber list countries.
From July 19th, fully vaccinated UK citizens returning from a trip will no longer have to isolate for ten days.
Holidaymakers will, however, have to take a test before their trip, and then one within two days of their return.
In response to this announcement, Simon Cooper, chief executive of On the Beach, said: “We’re pleased with the progress the UK is making in reducing lockdown restrictions and the impact this has on our chances of being able to holiday sooner rather than later.
“However, we are celebrating today’s announcement with caution, since we need to bear in mind that it is not just the UK government that can decide on how easy it is to go on holiday – British holidaymakers’ plans are also reliant on the policies in our holiday destinations too, and extensive testing requirements remain in place for customers travelling in both directions.”
In the aviation sector, Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the move was welcome.
He explained: “The UK government’s announcement that fully vaccinated UK residents will no longer need to self-isolate when arriving into the UK from amber countries from July 19th is a positive development.
“Providing assurance for consumers and businesses who can now book and travel with greater confidence.
“With the launch of a proof-of-concept trial on selected US and Caribbean routes from this week, we are ready to implement the new policy and to work with government and authorities to ensure safe and seamless international travel.”
Having reported financial losses earlier today, Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com, said the decision was a chance to begin the recovery.
He said: “This is the news that UK holidaymakers have been looking forward to, as it finally signals a meaningful restart to international travel.
“Instead of a handful of destinations to choose from, this news means our customers can plan and look forward to flights and holidays across 40 green and amber list destinations this summer.
“We will be restarting flights and holidays to all amber List destinations from July 19th onwards and we are ready for the wave of demand that this long-awaited and very welcome news will bring.”
In the cruise sector, Paul Melinis, managing director of APT, said it would allow the line to return to operations.
“With such a limited number of destinations on the table up to this point, we have had to make the difficult decision to suspend all of our trips so far, and it is a great relief to be able to start planning for our much-wanted return to operation.
“We can’t wait to welcome APT and Travelmarvel guests back onto our river cruise ships and tours soon,” he said.
However, Virginia Messina, senior vice president with the World Travel & Tourism Council, said more needed to be done.
“While it’s a step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go before holidays become truly affordable - and accessible.
“The requirement for PCR tests to return from amber list countries will remain, pricing out many hard-working families from being able to take holidays abroad.
“And though it is great news for the double jabbed and under-18s who also are exempt from quarantines, it still leaves more than one in three UK adults who have only received a single dose, forced into quarantine when they arrive back in the UK from an amber list country.
“Countries must take a coordinated and harmonised approach and align policies to avoid confusion among holidaymakers who need easy to understand rules and regulations more than ever before.”
Finally, Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said this could be the light at the end of the tunnel the travel trade has been waiting for.
“We know there is significant pent-up demand to travel abroad – to see family and friends, make business connections and have a well-deserved holiday.
“The minister today has sent a clear message that people can travel abroad to amber list countries this summer - opening up travel to many popular holiday destinations, but there is a lot more than needs to happen for the industry to get back on its feet, and the need for government support remains pressing.
“Government also needs to work to reduce the cost and need for testing, as well as making sure it has the right resources at the border to deal with the increased number of passengers, and it is important that the Foreign Office advice against travel to some amber list countries takes into account the increasing vaccination rates in destinations, and the reducing risks.”