It is a great relief to hear that the UK’s blanket quarantine regulations will be lifted this week as we wait to hear the details this week. The industry needs clarity on the countries and time scale to be applied and to urge the government to lift quarantine and give positive traffic light ratings on as many low-risk countries as possible that are ready to accept UK visitors for example across Europe, The Caribbean, Indian Ocean Islands and part of Africa.
The industry which represents £200billion to the economy, 2.9 million jobs, and 11% of GDP, according to the WTTC, has been the worst hit from covid-19 in the UK. The gradual lifting of quarantine and the new FCO traffic light travel advice system will help consumers make informed decisions and give them more confidence to travel. The anticipation alone has created a massive rise in bookings over the weekend. This will help the travel industry start to recover some of the summer business and low-risk overseas destination tourism industries to restart as well as bring business to the UK tourism industry. However, most reports indicate that this is likely to be around 30% of the previous year.
Some of the low-risk European countries have been tipped to be first to have these new procedures put in place as soon as 06 July; France, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Germany possibly followed by Denmark, Norway, Finland, and The Netherlands. These are amongst the UK’s top European tourism sources and top outbound destinations as well as being low-risk countries.
It is feared that travel capacity to and accommodation within the main European countries may not be able to cope with demand, especially as Europe itself has had several weeks ahead of the UK to book. Therefore opening up to more low-risk countries quickly is important for the survival of the industry and will give consumers a wider choice as soon as they are ready to welcome us, for example, Malta, Sri Lanka, or Tunisia.
Both the Industry and individual traveller has a duty of care to respect the different jurisdiction’s protocols and regulations in particular regarding health, hygiene, and social distancing and heed the new FCO Traffic light travel advice. The consumer’s health must come first, we are all learning to live with covid-19 and this will continue until a vaccine or cure is developed.
There were nearly 41m overseas visits to the UK in 2019. Although staycations in the UK will greatly help the English Tourism Industry representing 300,000 jobs and £3billion to the economy it is expected that we will not see a return to pre-covid figures for several years to come, especially as the Americans had become the number one source market and Australia is in the top 10.
The UK expects to see VFR and business travel arrivals once the restrictions are lifted followed by holidaymakers. Visit England’s “Good to go” and UK Hospitality’s Protocols will go a long way to reassure the consumer. Capacity may again pose a problem as witnessed on beaches recently and the public needs to be mindful of the social distancing rules in place and seek to discover alternative, lesser-known areas to visit.
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