PM under fresh pressure to save summer with new travel rules

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Weary Britons clearly deserve an overseas break after “17 months of hell”, they added. The Government is set to update the green list this week, after months of “chopping and  changing” damaged confidence among some travellers and heaped misery on the tourism industry. It comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak raised concerns about the impact of wider border restrictions on the economy.

Travel industry leaders said rapid last-minute rule changes have created uncertainty that is “killing confidence” in travel and will lead to major job losses.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “Ministers have one last chance this week to help the travel sector recover without choking off bookings to key European zones.

“I’d urge them to move away from blanket country assessments towards individual risk and acknowledge that fully jabbed citizens should be able to travel more widely at their own risk, as US ­citizens can.

“The frequent traffic light reviews, alongside costly testing, are killing confidence to book. If August isn’t salvaged this week then ministers will be responsible for tens of thousands of job losses and ­company failures in the sector.

“Adding an Amber watchlist ­category will only confuse ­consumers more and choke off bookings for August.

“People cannot be bothered to take so much risk alongside the financial pain of testing. Such a category will snuff out most outbound August travel.”

The traffic light travel list will be updated on Wednesday or Thursday. Experts fear Spain may move from amber to amber-plus, where returning Britons have to quarantine even if they are double-jabbed.

Martyn Sumners, executive director at the Aito travel association, said: “After 17 months of hell, the British public deserves a break.

“Consumer confidence is at an all-time low because the Government is chopping and changing the rules on everything, including holidays, every five minutes.

“Customers don’t know where they stand, but are desperate to get away and have a well-earned break – and know that they are now safer abroad than at home.”

A spokesman from travel agents group ABTA said: “We need to see more destinations added to the green list at the next review.

“The traffic light system includes measures to mitigate risk from travel and if these are applied there’s no reason why more destinations shouldn’t go green.

“We are still seeing other ­countries reopen more quickly than the UK. We are falling behind and we need to capitalise on the success of the vaccine rollout by getting our ­international travel industry ­moving again.

“The outbound travel sector is facing a much more gradual ­relaxation of restrictions than the domestic economy. We need to see a tailored package of support measures to recognise that, including ongoing furlough and income support schemes, full business rates relief and consideration of tailored grant schemes.

“This has added urgency with furlough support being further reduced. We also need to see the Government make further progress on making testing more affordable and proportionate.”

It emerged yesterday that the Chancellor wrote to the Prime Minister recently warning Britain’s border rules had left the country with more “draconian” measures than the EU.

Mr Sunak said in the letter the UK was “out of step with our ­international competitors”. The PM later changed the rules to allow EU and US travellers fully vaccinated with approved vaccines to travel to England without the need for quarantine.

Mr Johnson is facing calls to extend the rules to other parts of the world to boost the UK’s hard-hit domestic tourism industry, as well as ease the restrictions on Britons who want some last-minute summer sun.

Tory MP Henry Smith, whose Crawley constituency includes Gatwick Airport, warned of further job losses unless there is a change in approach.

He said: “What I’m hoping for and would encourage from the Government in their announcement is far greater expansion of those countries on the green list.

“Unless we have a far greater reopening of international travel for what remains of the summer then my fear is we will see further job losses in the travel and aviation sector and the wider economy that relies on tourism.

“Rather than the sector being able to make money for the ­economy, it will be costing the exchequer more.

“Now is the time to let the ­industry recover.”

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