UK urged to drop ‘failed and damaging’ traffic light travel system

The World Travel and Tourism Council wants fully vaccinated travellers to be exempt from rules

The travel sector has urged the UK government to drop its “failed and damaging” traffic light system for international travel.

On Wednesday, the World Travel and Tourism Council said the scheme was “incredibly disruptive” and had “wreaked havoc” on business.

The government introduced the new system on May 17, when the ban on overseas trips was lifted.

Countries are rated according to coronavirus risk, with travellers not required to quarantine when returning to the UK from destinations on the green list.

Those travelling back from amber countries need to quarantine for 10 full days at home and take several Covid-19 tests.

Passengers coming back from red list countries need to pay £1,750 ($2,480) to quarantine for 10 full days in a government-approved hotel.

On Tuesday, Portugal was removed from the green list after only two weeks, leaving holidaymakers scrambling to get back to Britain to avoid quarantine.

The WTTC said a further 218,000 jobs were at “serious risk” if international travel continued to be off-limits for most of the summer.

That figure would follow the 307,000 jobs that were lost in the UK sector last year.

“Consumers, airlines and the wider travel sector were promised a watch list and three weeks’ notice of any changes from green to amber, and not just four days,” WTTC’s Virginia Messina said.

“It has been incredibly disruptive and costly for both travel and tourism businesses and consumers. It simply hasn’t worked.”

She said people who are fully vaccinated should be allowed to travel freely.

“Those who are not fully vaccinated should be able to travel with proof of a negative test, like we are seeing in the EU,” she said.

“The travel sector needs this now if it is to survive this summer, as domestic travel alone will not save the day.”

The government says it will not hesitate to take countries off the green list to protect the vaccine drive from imported Covid-19 variants.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the British public should “holiday at home” and visit the “great places” in the UK.

"My advice to people would be holiday at home,” he said.

"We've got some great places here, there aren't many places that are on that [green] list.”

Updated: June 9, 2021 05:02 PM

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