Abercrombie & Kent founder and co-chairman Geoffrey Kent has blasted the UK government’s stance on airport testing and its failure to encourage other precautions to halt the spread of Covid-19.
Responding to transport secretary Grant Shapps’ suggestion that testing could soon be introduced to reduce the length of the current 14-day quarantine on arrival policy from many destinations, Kent said the government could have taken a "world-leading" approach to testing on arrival and the movement of people.
"However, we don’t even have routine temperature testing at our airports and anecdotal feedback is that follow up to check that quarantine rules are being followed is at best inconsistent," said Kent, who is also a member of the WTTC’s executive committee.
"This isn’t only about testing on arrival, but more accessible testing across the board, allowing people to move more freely and provide evidence that they are Covid-free – the current system the government uses would essentially ban themselves from visiting many countries if the rules were reversed."
Kent said while the current quarantine protocols were "the right move for a short-term problem", it had become clear Covid is not going to go away any time soon.
"Without sensible changes, every aspect of the travel industry from tour operators to airlines will be devastated," said Kent, stressing that while the government’s focus on healthcare amid the Covid pandemic was an understandable priority, travel had been pushed too far down ministers’ list of priorities given its economic contribution.
He added the Covid health crisis risked spilling over into other areas, such as conservation and sustainability – two issues travel and tourism is recognised for its efforts to support.