Abta chief Mark Tanzer has urged the government to set out a clear plan to recovery for the travel sector, warning overlapping Covid rules and restrictions are currently making travel unviable.
Tanzer said while he accepted the government must take additional steps to control the spread of Covid, the roll-out of a pre-departure testing requirement – now delayed until Monday (18 January) – would join "myriad" other measures which, if still in place when people start travelling again, would prove "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," said Tanzer, who also criticised the lack of a definitive timeline for when the government expects to be able to ease the measures impacting travel.
"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," said Tanzer.
"What the industry needs to hear from government is a clear plan for recovery."
He continued: "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."
In a blog post, Tanzer urged the government to instruct its Global Travel Taskforce to pull together several working groups to assess the restrictions imposed on travel, as well as what the rollout of the Covid vaccine will mean for overseas travel in future.
"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," said Tanzer.
"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’s vaccination programs."