The government’s decision to revoke Malta’s quarantine-free travel corridor will come as a worse blow to agents than losing France, Advantage chief Julia Lo Bue-Said has said.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed, in a tweet, shortly before 10pm on Thursday (13 August) a further six countries would be removed from the UK’s travel corridor list as of 4am on Saturday (15 August) – France, Malta, the Netherlands, Monaco, Turks & Caicos, and Aruba.
Anyone travelling from any of the six destinations to the UK will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
The Foreign Office has also advised against all but essential travel to all six countries.
Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said it was the decision to revoke Malta’s travel corridor that would cause greatest worry to the trade.
“To have France removed from the government’s list of travel corridors is seriously worrying for the travel industry and the economy in general, given that there are so many British visitors there right now," she said.
"However, for the travel agent community, the removal of Malta is even more worrying it’s a destination more likely to be booked by an agent as a package holiday.
"We are working hard with our partners, suppliers and fellow industry leaders to encourage consumers to have the confidence to book a holiday but this latest news will further damage consumer confidence."
Lo Bue-Said said the government’s latest snap decision on travel corridors, coming after travel to Spain was effectively banned with just a few hours’ notice last month, was further evidence "uncertain times are here to stay".
The consortium is calling for suppliers to offer consumers more flexibility, including 48 hours flexibility should a holiday be affected by Covid-19, and for the government to give the industry more notice of any changes to a destination’s quarantine status.
In a statement, the Malta Travel Authority said the decision was "disappointing" and stressed the Maltese government was doing everything it could "to make citizens and tourists feel safe".
“Britain is Malta’s largest inbound tourism market and it is, therefore, disappointing to learn that the UK government placed Malta on the travel quarantine list," said the authority. "The decision is respected, and Malta will continue to work closely with the British government for the decision to be reversed.
"Malta has one of the highest testing rates in Europe, meaning new cases have been quickly identified, located and those affected are placed in quarantine. Testing, contact tracing and quarantining are key to Malta managing the virus to make Maltese citizens and tourists feel safe.
"In 2019 Malta welcomed 650,000 British travellers. The country has strong air connections with the UK with four airlines operating from 18 regional hubs.
"Trade partners of Malta Tourism Authority UK are asked to contact the team for advice, guidance and information to ensure that all British nationals on island or are due to imminently fly to Malta are provided the latest information."