A Lichfield travel agent has branded the Government’s latest traffic light system update as a “kick in the teeth” for the industry.
Portugal will be moved from the green list into amber, meaning travellers must isolate for ten days when they return – a move which will cut off one of the few overseas summer holiday locations available to people across England.
There had been suggestions before the announcement that some holiday hotspots could move on to the green list, including Greek and Spanish islands.
But the decision not to add any destinations into the quarantine-free status means people hoping to get away face continued disappointment.
Oliver Broad, joint managing director of Lichfield-based RB Collection, said the announcement was “a real shock”.
“Today’s announcement that no further destinations will be added to the green travel list, and Portugal will be moved from green to amber is devastating news for all local travel agents and their employees.
“It’s a real shock, especially after the Government lifted the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice for the Canary Islands, Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete early last month.
“The traffic light system focuses on requirements when you return to the UK, while the FCDO advice is relevant for outbound travel.
“Unfortunately, the Government doesn’t keep the two aligned, so even though they say it is safe to visit Corfu for example as Greece is on the amber list, you are forced to home quarantine when you return.
“The fact they have used traffic lights which are of course associated with the starting line has caused total confusion with the public.
“Since 17th May, Portugal, Gibraltar, Iceland and Israel were all on the green list so no quarantine when you get home – today’s announcement takes Portugal off that list which means you will now have to quarantine when you get home.
“However, the FCDO advice still says it is okay to go there.”Oliver Broad
“Concern is for the future of our industry”
The travel industry had hoped for some respite after a year of challenges posed by coronavirus.
But Mr Broad said today’s decision had been another “kick in the teeth”.
“We are now in month 14 of Government travel restrictions which have significantly impacted our family business and no doubt our local colleagues too.
“While we appreciate travel needs to be safe; airlines, airports, destinations and hoteliers have all put significant protocols in place to keep us safe.
“My concern is for the future of our industry, all those whom it employs and local businesses that benefit by selling holiday clothes, sun-tan lotion, beach towels and all the other items we stock up on before we escape on a well-deserved break.
“Local retailers have suffered long enough, this is another kick in the teeth.
“The Office of National Statistics has confirmed travel is the worst hit industry so the Government are fully aware of the financial impact and yet we have received zero sector specific support.
“We have repeatedly appealed to Michael Fabricant MP for assistance with a variety of campaigns backed by ABTA and AITO and we are yet to see any serious support.”Oliver Broad
Mr Broad said that while his own company had faced challenges, others may not survive the coronavirus crisis.
“Last year was our company’s 35th year on Boley Park and we’ve had a great amount of support from clients and local residents and continued to keep in touch with everyone.
“We have many, many holidays booked for clients for later this year, 2022 and even 2023 so we know things will eventually turn around.
“I hope others will be able to weather the storm as securely as we do and we can once again help support and service the local economy to help it prosper.”Oliver Broad