The UK’s inbound travel industry has pleaded for a date from the UK government for the reopening of the international market amid fears that summer 2021 has already been lost.
Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, said nobody was going to travel to the UK for a holiday until the UK set a date for the reopening of the country to international visitors.
Croft told TTG that one of the biggest barriers was the delay in the UK agreeing reciprocal arrangements with the EU and US over acceptable forms of vaccine certification for travellers.
To be able to restart, the inbound industry needs the lifting of UK quarantine for fully vaccinated visitors from amber list countries. The new exemption from quarantine for amber arrivals currently only applies to UK residents who have been fully jabbed.
“We need a date – there’s still demand out there to travel to the UK but it’s starting to dwindle,” urged Croft. “Without a date nobody is going to travel to the UK. Nobody is going to quarantine for seven days on holiday.”
Croft made his comments ahead of UKinbound’s #SaveInboundTourism event which was held in central London on Tuesday (20 July) as a way of putting more pressure on the government.
He added that it was already “too late” for most group tours for the rest of 2021 due to the long lead-in times for these trips.
“We’re running out of tarmac for groups but there’s still an opportunity to get the crumbs – but still very welcome crumbs – from independent travellers,” said Croft.
“It seems deeply iniquitous that businesses have not been able to trade and can see no date when they might be able to trade.”
Rob Russell, chief executive of AC Group, said the inbound travel trade had become the “forgotten end of the whole conversation” with more media coverage given to the reopening of outbound international travel from the UK in recent months.
“We’re now writing off August because with lead-in times we’re going to need six to eight weeks to see decent volumes of travel,” he added. “We cannot open the doors tomorrow and get business tomorrow.
“We’ve just taken two bookings from Americans going to Ireland but they could have been coming to the UK instead. There’s a lack of being able to commit with no date to open the borders. Currently there are no international tourists coming into the country at all.”
Russell pleaded for the UK government to give the inbound industry a date for reopening even if it was later in 2021 because “at least then we would know”.
Emmanuelle Spriet, founder of E-Voyages Group, added: “There is this misguided idea that domestic tourism can replace international visits; international visitors spend three times as much and it’s foreign money coming in.
“We are the third largest service export industry. Domestic tourism is great, but it’s British money staying in Britain, it’s not fresh money coming into the country.
“We’re coming towards the end of the summer. If the government says reopen the borders tomorrow, so what?
“At some point we will run out of cash and that market share will go to other countries.”