Aito members have lost faith in government. It is not telling us the truth; we don’t believe the ongoing restrictions on overseas travel have anything to do with anxieties over variants of concern.
The Telegraph, which seems to be party to accurate government leaks, has revealed health secretary Matt Hancock kept Boris Johnson in the dark over the vaccine’s success over the Indian variant for several days, thus keeping vital data – which could have enabled the planned reopening on the 21 June – secret.
This is the latest of many misrepresentations preventing Aito members, and travel in general, from trading; it risks more than 500,000 travel industry livelihoods. The two “Global Travel Taskforces”, supposedly taking advice from the industry, failed to do so.
The traffic light system was meant to allow travel to amber list countries subject to observation of safety requirements; within three weeks, government ministers, including the prime minister, claimed amber meant an overseas travel ban. And what happened to the much-trumpeted game-changer, the green watchlist, proudly announced by the Global Travel Taskforce in April?
The government claims to “follow the data”. But the Department for Transport and the Foreign Office don’t seem to follow the same data; the DfT lists many destinations as amber while the FCDO has no restrictions to the same destinations. This simply causes confusion – for the travel industry and to consumers.
For months, we’ve urged government to facilitate ease of entry at airports via digital solutions. Nothing has been done. We’re told double vaccination provides 90%-plus protection against serious Covid infection, but our clients still need PCR tests on return to the UK.
There is no clear government criterion on travel to destinations which are actually safer to visit than holidaying in the UK. Government is incompetent; we believe it is creating barriers to prevent the public from travelling abroad, forcing everyone to holiday in the UK.
We desperately need sector-specific help – and ministers we can trust.
Noel Josephides is chair of Sunvil and Aito’s director of industry affairs.