Global Tourism Sector ‘Disappointed’ with UK’s ‘Green List’
Global tourism and travel stakeholders and investors expressed their disappointment this week over the announcement of the UK’s “green list” of countries that won’t require travelers to quarantine on return which excluded popular holiday destinations such as Greece and Spain.
Representing the sector worldwide, Gloria Guevara, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) President and CEO said the UK “can ill-afford to be this cautious” particularly after suffering the biggest fall in contribution towards GDP from travel and tourism of the 10 most important global markets by 62.5 percent and a total of 148 billion pounds lost to its economy.
“Airlines and the wider travel and tourism sector will be hugely disappointed that the US, 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 and tourism markets in the world,” she said.
Current Green List a ‘Missed Opportunity’
On behalf of UK-registered carriers, Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade echoed Guevara’s sentiments describing the decision as a “missed opportunity”.
“We must see major additions to the green list at the next review point in three weeks, alongside a simpler and much reduced testing burden so that travel does not become the preserve of the wealthy only,” he said, adding that the UK is at risk of “falling behind” if it does not open up to key markets across Europe and the US.
Britain’s travel association ABTA also expressed its discontent with the decision.
ABTA CEO Mark Tanzer said the decision veered away from the approach initially outlined by the government and will “delay the industry’s recovery”, also calling on the UK government to review opening up travel to more destinations.
“We also need the government to commit to supporting travel agents and tour operators through what will continue to be difficult times ahead,” he added.
Meanwhile, easyJet, one of Britain’s leading budget carriers, in an angered response said the decision to open to so few countries on May 17 was “simply not justified by the data” and is “inconsistent” with announced plans.
“This decision means that so many people will continue to be unable to see their families and loved ones, develop their businesses or go on a much-needed holiday abroad,” easyJet said in a statement.
The company added that it expects the government to add more countries to the green list over the next month and to plan consistently “so that consumers and airlines alike can plan for this summer”.
It also called for cheaper tests and the removal of the testing requirement for green, low risk countries.
Greece Rival Portugal Gains Ground
Meanwhile, bookings in rival market Portugal soared after the news. Ryanair announced that it had boosted flights to Portuguese destinations opening over 175,000 extra seats as of May 17. According to UK tour operator Jet2holidays and its leisure airline Jet2.com, summer bookings to Faro and Madeira rose by more than 600 percent in the 24 hours following the green list announcement, and by over 1,300 percent when compared to the same period a week ago.
The UK is the fourth biggest G20 economy in terms of international travel and tourism spend from business travel, which amounted to 7.5 billion pounds in 2019, according to the WTTC.
It should be reminded that the UK has also been traditionally one Greece’s key source markets with 3.5 million arrivals generating 2.5 billion euros in 2019, according to central bank data. Last year, the number of UK travelers to Greece dropped by approximately 71 percent or 2.8 million passengers.
Last year we had our June holiday to Corfu cancelled but were allowed to travel in September with only a plf form to fill in this year I and my brother have both had both vaccines but still cant fly unless we spend another £400 on tests WHY
If you’re vaccinated you do not need to test to fly to Greece!
We travelled to Kefalonia last August. It was the first time I felt truly safe. The restaurants were all Covid secure with outside eating, spacing and hand gels. I’m still hoping and praying all my holiday savings will be spent on Greek islands. I have Crete and Kefalonia booked for this year and Meganisi booked for next year. Hang on in for us Greece we are desperate to be with you. The Greek people are the warmest and most welcoming people on the planet
No one in England can understand why the Greek Islands are not on the green list as they have a high level of vaccinated people. It is Ludicrous to say the least. One hopes that this will change in 3 weeks. I believe Greece has done everything that has been asked of them to keep the virus in check.
I will not be deserting greece, i have three holidays booked for this year.
Believe me, Greek-loving UK residents are pretty sick too! Last year, Tui cancelled our 2 Rhodes holidays. This year’s two have also gone the same way. . However, the UK follows the ‘science and results’, so I am afraid we will just have fo wait to fly again. So disappointed again … On a positive note, we have had our 2 Rhodian holidays booked for 2022 for months. See you next year, fingers crossed!
Don’t be shocked by national governments travel lists. The UK, Ireland, etc want their citizens to stay at home and not necessarily for health reasons. They want the money spent on “foreign” holidays to be invested in local tourism even if it means you may end up with 2 weeks of cloud and rain.