Consumer watchdog Which? has warned the government it is at risk of overlooking travellers’ concerns with regards to the restart of international travel if the Global Travel Taskforce fails to engage the public prior to publishing its 12 April report.
Which? on Monday (29 March) warned the government’s plans to restart foreign travel could be "doomed to failure" if consumers do not receive the reassurances they need on how travel will be made safe, and how their refunds rights will be upheld.
The organisation said despite the GTT’s concerted efforts to consult the travel, transport and tourism industries, international partners, the Covid-19 testing sector, academics and policy experts, engagement with consumers has so far been "largely limited" to correspondence via a single email address that is not clearly listed.
Which? has published a list of consumers priorities for travel, focusing on measures to improve consumer confidence, to make Covid tests and vaccine certification accessible and affordable, and ensure travellers have means to recourse if their travel plans are affected by Covid.
It also wants people to share their experiences with the GTT of how the pandemic has affected their travel plans over the psat year, and what their concerns are about the restart. The watchdog says consumers face another summer of disruption if the government does not provide assurances on safety, testing, travel certification, and the effects of Foreign Office advice.
Additionally, it has called on the government to ensure effective safety measures are enforced at airports – such as social distancing – to avoid additional Covid risks at the border.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: "Many of us are looking forward to the opportunity to step on a plane and travel to family and friends or take a holiday again in the near future, but the past year has taught us that there are a number of risks involved with international travel that need to be removed or reduced before we will be comfortable doing so.
"Confidence in overseas travel has plummeted as a result of the pandemic, and government interventions for both the industry and passengers who have been let down by their operator or airline have been woefully insufficient.
"The taskforce has a real opportunity to give passengers the confidence to travel again, but it must take their concerns into consideration, or else it risks another disastrous summer for passengers and industry alike."