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UK Tourism Bodies Appeal for Greater Clarity & Flexibility Around International Travel

Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash
UK Tourism Bodies Appeal for Greater Clarity & Flexibility Around International Travel

Leading travel trade bodies, ABTA and Airlines UK, have written to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office on the need for clarity around the future approach to foreign travel advice. In their letter the bodies call for a regional approach to travel advice and a reinstatement of the islands policy.

When international travel reopened last year the UK government removed its advice against all but essential travel to some islands when it was still in place for the mainland; for example, the advice was lifted for the Canary Islands but still in place for mainland Spain. This allowed for a risk-managed approach to overseas travel, and the bodies argue the same process should be adopted as we look ahead to restarting travel this year.

They also say that a similar approach needs to be taken for countries with large land mass where regional health data is available. Previously, advice against all but essential travel for COVID-19 applied to whole countries. This meant that the government was advising against all but essential travel to countries such as the US, despite there being significant variation in infection rates across states. Adopting a more sophisticated approach to travel advice, which applies a regional assessment of risk, would be more pragmatic and help to support vital trade links, such transatlantic connectivity with the US and Canada.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA – The Travel Association said: “Protecting public health must be the main priority for the Government which is why a risk managed approach to returning to international travel is really important. Reintroducing the islands policy and adopting a regional approach to travel advice for large countries, which is informed by the health data around infection and vaccination rates, is a risk-based and pragmatic way of opening up international travel. It would help to enable the safe return of travel to more destinations while continuing to manage the risk to individuals.”

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK said: “We’re waiting to hear more from the Government on the traffic light system, but we also need clarity on the use of Foreign Office Travel Advice. That advice needs to be used for its intended purpose, to assess the risk to individuals travelling to a particular destination, and it should also be consistent and coordinated with the traffic light system – providing clarity for the industry and travellers.”

Is it time for the Irish government to also start thinking along these lines?

 

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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