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Comments on the U.K.’s New Traffic Light System for International Travel

Green countries for UK

Following the UK's initial announcement on easing international travel restrictions, several British and international travel and tourism leaders commented on the launch of U.K.’s “traffic light system” for international travel.

The UK Government on Friday announced which countries are listed as green, amber, and red, with green locations requiring no quarantine on return home to the UK, with a test required on or before two days upon return.

This will no doubt make green sanctioned countries more popular as amber destinations still require 10 up to days self isolation at home, while red destinations still require 10 days of isolation in a Government approved hotel at a considerable cost of £1,750.

UK traffic lights system BBC

The green-listed destinations announced on Friday 7th May include Brunei, Gibraltar, Israel, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore amongst a number of others.

UKinbound CEO, Joss Croft said “Confirmation that non-essential international travel will reopen on 17th May is a positive step forward and will be celebrated across the sector, but our industry cannot afford another false dawn and a stop-start recovery.

“The sparsity of countries on the green list and notable absence of the US and much of Europe, along with the cost of testing and the continuation of quarantine measures, present further devastating barriers to business for the inbound tourism industry, which sustains over 500,000 jobs and would normally generate £28.4 billion annually for the UK economy.

“This is not job done, the important task of removing restrictions at our borders is not complete and it will therefore be many more months until recovery can really begin.  We fully endorse a risk-based approach to reopening, but now more than ever we need Government to provide targeted recovery support for inbound tourism businesses to ensure the industry can play its crucial role in the UK’s economic revival.” 

Following the United States listed in amber, Gloria Guevera, President & CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said, “We welcome this first initial step by the UK government to begin opening the door to international travel with the announcement of today’s ‘traffic light’ system. However, airlines and the wider Travel & Tourism sector will be hugely disappointed that the U.S., which has a similar vaccination success rate has not been included on the ‘green list’ as it would have enabled the resumption of transatlantic travel, which would have thrown a vital lifeline to the sector in two of the biggest Travel & Tourism markets in the world.

“Holidaymakers and business travellers will be disappointed by today’s news, with so few countries on the ‘green list’, while Europe steals a march on the UK by continuing to open up and welcome visitors back. We are also disappointed that UK travellers are expected to pay for expensive PCR tests, even when traveling from countries on the green list. This will make foreign holidays totally unaffordable for many families.

“We urge the UK government to work with its providers to offer more cost-effective tests for UK travellers, or accept the more affordable yet rapid and effective, antigen tests. After suffering the biggest fall in contribution towards GDP from Travel & Tourism of the 10 most important global markets - by a staggering 62.5% - the UK can ill-afford to be this cautious.”

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said, “The U.K.’s decision to put the United States on their amber status for reopening just isn’t backed by the science. Putting the U.S. on amber status ignores the scientific data regarding increasing vaccination rates, lower infection rates and that the U.S. has the right strategies in place to mitigate risk.

“The U.S. needs to demonstrate leadership and come to the table with the U.K. and increase dialogue to allow for a reopening of travel with one of our most important international partners. The U.S. economy will lose $262 billion and 1.1 million jobs if its borders remain shut, and putting a roadmap and timelines forward to quickly create a U.S.-U.K. travel corridor would be low-risk for both countries and high-reward economically.”

According to research by Butter, the UK’s only Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) travel agency, it will cost travelers considerably more to book a holiday in the first place because green tier destinations are by far the most expensive.

At £833 on average, red tier destinations were home to a higher holiday cost than amber, however, green tier destinations were still 18% more expensive than red tier locations.

uk traffic light system holiday prices

Timothy Davis, Co-Founder and CEO of Butter, commented, “Holidaymakers will now be climbing over each other to book a trip away to a green tier destination this summer, having not been able to take a proper holiday in quite some time. The only downside to this greater level of consumer confidence is that green tier locations are likely to cost them more than locations currently listed as amber or red. Of course many will have been saving in anticipation, having been starved of some summer sun since the pandemic began, but there is another way to secure their holiday this year before it’s too late and without breaking the bank.

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