The travel sector has called for financial support in the wake of new lockdown restrictions across the UK, but there are signs of optimism ahead of the key summer season.
Prime minister Boris Johnson last night returned England to the tightest restrictions seen since March, following a similar move in Scotland. Travel is expected to be all but banned until mid-February, with dire consequences for the hospitality sector.
An Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) spokesperson explained: “It’s right, of course, that the government takes steps to control the spread of the virus.”
This needs to come with the right measures to support travel businesses that have little or no means of operating. For ten months, many travel businesses have been unable to generate the income – putting jobs and businesses at risk – and the latest government measures mean this is unlikely to change soon. Yet, unlike other sectors such as hospitality, there has not been any tailored financial support from the UK government to get travel businesses through the crisis.
The ABTA spokesperson continued, “To protect people here and abroad, testing is essential. With vaccinations and testing the way forward to fight this deadly virus, easily accessible cost-effective or free testing is key. Testing is too expensive at the moment. Tests before travel are required now before UK travellers go to most countries. Return tests will also help to protect people. When people can travel, free or extremely low-priced tests before or after travel need to be made accessible in the community, rather than having to rely on, in what feels like, in many cases, overpriced private testing. With only a small number of testing services on the test to release programme, many of the services were overwhelmed when the quarantine test and release scheme launched at the beginning of December. Access to tests needs to be increased and to be free or no more than £30 each, a much more affordable price.”
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