The government “has egg on its face” over Covid travel advice and a primary school pupil could have made better decisions, Aito has said.
The association led a chorus of disapproval following renewed advice against travel to Spain and its islands. Aito chair Chris Rowles said:
“We know only too well from our many attempted communications with the five ministries to which the travel industry reports that the government certainly doesn’t engage with us - or the wider travel industry - which is the reason that it has so much egg on its face at present.
“Looking at the figures, one is led to think that it could certainly be more dangerous to stay in the UK than to travel to countries like Portugal and Greece, with their very low Covid figures and even lower death tolls per head of population.
“A quick look at the statistics is damning. Spain’s Covid stats, considering its population of 46.75 million, are lower as a percentage of deaths per head of population than the UK’s dire position as the worst performer - by a considerable margin - in Europe.
“The majority of Spanish deaths are in hotspots such as Barcelona - most of Spain is low risk; in Portugal, the hotspot is in an area of Lisbon simply not frequented by tourists - much the same as with Leicestershire and other nearby hotspots in the UK.”
Rowles said Portugal should be on the list for no-quarantine air corridors. “A child in primary education could probably tell them that the figures for both Portugal and Greece indicate good Covid housekeeping,” he said.
Pilot’s union Balpa said the government “needs to look again” at Covid border policies that are “damaging the UK economy”.
Balpa said blacklisting whole countries, “as is the case with Portugal and Spain, is not a targeted approach, does not provide the best protection against coronavirus transmission and is hugely detrimental to the UK economy”.
Balpa said because many countries have clusters of coronavirus cases in certain areas and areas of high risk and low risk, travel advice based around smaller areas such as cities “would be more logical”.
The union’s general secretary Brian Strutton added: "Striking off whole countries is not a proportionate response and does not allow us to accurately target the areas where transmission of Covid-19 is likely to be high. At the same time, it is hugely damaging for the travel industry and the UK economy.
“We are asking the government to sharpen the ‘blunt tool’ approach and look at the tried and tested way the FCO looks at safety and security at regional and city level rather than blacklisting entire countries.”
The TSSA union called for a package of measures from the government to save the travel industry. General secretary Manuel Cortes said:
“It is now more urgent than ever that the government act to save our travel trade industry. We need a bespoke solution that extends beyond the end of the current jobs retention scheme. Without government support there is a very real risk that the UK travel industry will collapse and thousands of people will lose their jobs.”