Abta says the government’s new Global Travel Taskforce must take "decisive and urgent" action to protect thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of viable travel jobs.
Chief executive Mark Tanzer said the government’s announcement on Wednesday (7 October) acknowledged ministers recognised the need to get people travelling again to support the sector, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The taskforce will explore how testing can be used to cut the current 14-day self-isolation requirement upon return to the UK from many holiday destinations.
The belief, among travel, is that a 14-day quarantine requirement is too long for customers to realistically consider overseas travel while it remains in place.
However, the hope is that any concession on reducing this quarantine period through testing, potentially even cutting it in half or more, could stimulate demand anew.
"The taskforce needs to focus on decisive and urgent action, not only on rapidly introducing a testing regime, but also on moving to a regionalised quarantine approach and lifting the global advisory against travel - returning to providing travel advice for individual countries based on the risk to a traveller in destination," said Tanzer.
“Other countries have already moved to introduce testing, and further delays will only serve to exacerbate the industry’s struggles – especially as the winter season is fast approaching.
"With furlough ending this month, and the new Job Support Scheme doing little to support travel businesses, without tailored support we’ll see more job losses and businesses folding.”
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency and spokesperson for the Quash Quarantine campaign, said a five-day quarantine period followed by a confirmatory Covid test would help restore consumer confidence and generate demand.
“The intention to cut quarantine time by 50% or more, with a single test, is welcome news," said Charles.
"It will create more confidence to book and safely travel knowing there is a shorter self-isolation time that won’t impact the NHS.
"Hopefully the new travel taskforce will recommend quick and trouble-free implementation in November and provide more innovative solutions to getting travel moving again.
“The longer-term aim for international travel without quarantine cannot come soon enough and the whole sector will work to make that happen safely as quickly as possible.”