Travel leaders have blasted the government’s decision to exclude France from the easing of quarantine for fully vaccinated amber list arrivals, with the new rules coming into effect on Monday (19 July).
The government on Friday (16 July) confirmed France would be placed in its own unique category, branded "amber plus" by the industry, whereby it remains on the amber list, but all arrivals will continue to have to self-isolate for ten days and submit to tests on days two and eight – even those who are fully vaccinated.
It follows a sharp rise in cases of the beta variant of Covid-19 in France.
Abta said the decision would "undoubtedly dent consumer confidence" in overseas travel at a vital moment for the industry’s hopes of recovery.
’We are about to see many amber-listed countries opening up for UK visitors in time for the summer holidays," said an Abta spokesperson.
"Continuing changes to travel restrictions will delay any meaningful recovery for the industry and this news is just the latest example of why a tailored package of financial support for the travel and tourism sector must be introduced.”
Gary Lewis, chief executive of The Travel Network Group, said the decision was the latest in a string of "catastrophic" government announcements for the travel industry.
"People want and need to travel," said Lewis. "Customers are not scared of the risks. The vast majority are no longer at high risk of this disease because we are jabbed or we are young. The most vulnerable are more protected from this risk than many others we don’t protect them from.
"Yes, we must monitor new variants but they are inevitable. The government has to give us our freedom back. The vaccines will stay ahead of variants as they do with flu but we have to live with some risk. Most importantly we have to live.
"Scrap this traffic light system, monitor variants and ensure everyone is double jabbed. Allow our travel industry to trade. If not, then the need for financial support for the overseas travel sector until we have had a period of unrestricted trading is beyond critical."
Danny Callaghan, chief executive of the Latin American Travel Association and chair of the Travel Industry Alliance, described the move as "the final nail in the coffin of travel for 2021".
"This reveals what we had started to suspect - that the whole Global Travel Taskforce consultation was a meaningless way to keep the industry at bay for a few extra months," added Callaghan.
"This begs two questions: what exactly is the risk to the UK posed by arrivals from France?; and if France does pose a significant risk, why is it not on the red list? It seems politics and vanity trump safety every time, as we saw with the thousands of people allowed to-and-fro for the Euro matches at Wembley."