Travel should be reopened at Easter using a combination of testing and vaccine passports, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has said.
The WTTC believes 29 March, when two households will be able to mix outdoors and the start of Easter week, “should signal the restart of safe international travel”.
The WTTC believes waiting until 17 May, the earliest date for travel to resume, will cost the UK economy almost £27 billion and “hasten the further slide into collapse” of the sector.
WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “While the UK government’s announcement that international travel could resume on May 17 gives us grounds for optimism, it will come as cold comfort to struggling SMEs and travel and tourism businesses up and down the country.
“Our economic modelling shows the brutal impact the £27 billion loss could have, caused by delaying the restart of international travel by just seven weeks.
“It would be far less economically damaging to invest in testing and biometric technology which could safely reopen the doors to travel and save the millions of jobs at risk.”
She said extensive testing plus digital health passports would permit the safe restart of international travel.
“We have to guard against vaccines as a requirement to travel which would discriminate against less advanced countries and younger travellers, or those who simply can’t or choose not to be vaccinated.
“Furthermore, mask wearing should not be a choice; it has been proven to provide the highest level of protection against transmission of the virus.
"This, combined with a comprehensive testing regime, enhanced health and hygiene protocols, digital passes and the global rollout of vaccines will allow the safe restart of international travel.”