Prime minister, Boris Johnson, has said he is “hopeful” international travel can resume from the UK on May 17th, but offered few further details on the process of reopening borders.
Confirming a number of lockdown measures would be lifted next week, he said more data was needed before a firm decision could be taken.
Johnson confirmed a traffic light system would be introduced, with travel allowed to specifically designated ‘green’ countries.
More detail is expected this week and in a report from the Global Travel Taskforce next Monday.
However, there have been calls from the travel industry for more information on the reopening of the sector.
The Business Travel Association said the announcement was “beyond disappointing” and called for “a clear pathway to international travel and trade”.
Chief executive, Clive Wratten, said moves to open borders had “once again been kicked down the road”.
“The business travel industry continues to be crippled by the lack of movement,” he added.
In a Downing Street briefing, Johnson said he did not want to see coronavirus re-imported from abroad and urged people to wait before booking.
A report added pre-departure and post-arrival tests would still be needed for travellers, even to ‘green’ countries.
Chris Rowles, chairman of AITO, expressed his disappointment: “This is death by back-stabbing, with no sector-specific support whatsoever proffered to help the outbound industry to survive the coming weeks and months until travel abroad is again feasible to whichever countries are on the green and amber traffic light lists.”
Johnson added that it was too early to say which countries will be on the green list when non-essential international travel resumes.
These decisions will be driven by the data and evidence nearer the time, which we cannot predict now, he explained.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said: “ABTA has been urging the government to restart international travel using a tiered approach which manages risk, so we welcome confirmation that travel will reopen under a new risk-based ‘traffic light’ system.
“However, we need to see the details in the Global Travel Taskforce report before this can be assessed fully.
“A priority for the industry is a more stable system which avoids the situation of last summer where travel to many destinations was quickly turned on and off.
“It is vital that the government clarifies how the transition between green, amber and red levels will work, both to help travel businesses plan ahead and to provide reassurance for travellers.
“Destinations should not be suddenly closed off unless variants of concern dictate that this must happen.”
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