The tourism industry is calling on the government to give more detail on how travel restrictions will be lifted if Covid-19 is brought under control in the UK.
ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “As news continues to emerge of new variants of the virus developing overseas, along with the significant number of cases and deaths in the UK, it is understandable that the government wants to take every step necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
“The pre-departure testing for passengers entering the UK, originally due to come into force tomorrow but now delayed for England until Monday, is a clear example of this.
“It joins a myriad of other measures which if still in place when more people start to travel would be confusing, expensive and logistically difficult for customers.
“It would also serve as a barrier to travel putting many people off booking in the first place.”
Authorities earlier confirmed pre-departure Covid-19 testing would not begin until Monday, while also announcing arrivals from South America will be severely curtailed.
However, the restrictions are worrying for the tourism sector in the longer-term, Tanzer said.
He added: “It is worth pointing out that the government hasn’t given any confirmation that pre-departure testing will be removed once international travel opens up more widely – only that it will be reviewed as we come towards the end of this lockdown.
“What the industry needs to hear from government is a clear plan for recovery.
“We currently have travel corridors, quarantine, testing on departure to the UK, testing to reduce quarantine and advice against travel to whole countries all in place – not to mention the various restrictions overseas countries place on UK tourists.
“This situation is not a viable way to open up the travel market and get people travelling again.”
Tanzer, and the wider travel industry, are now calling on the government to use existing structures to plot a course out of the shutdown.
He added: “We are asking the government to use the global travel taskforce structure to convene specific working groups to look at these very issues, as well as what the rollout of the UK vaccine will mean for future overseas travel.
“We hope this will lead to a roadmap which can be used to drive future policy for business and leisure travel and get people moving again.
“We also continue to press the UK government on the need for tailored financial support for the sector and are speaking to destinations about their plans, including regarding UK travellers who are vaccinated, as well as their own country vaccination programs.”