Foreign Office advice will be more important for the trade than the government’s new traffic light system this summer, according to a leading industry lawyer.
Changes in FCDO advice to warn people against all non-essential travel to a destination will continue to act as the “trigger” for customers to be able to cancel holidays and claim refunds.
However, changes in a country’s traffic light status will not give holidaymakers the right to a refund, several speakers at Abta’s Travel Law seminar confirmed on Wednesday (19 May).
Matt Gatenby, senior partner and head of litigation at Travlaw, stressed the importance of FCDO advice during the virtual conference.
“It’s hard not to be caught up in the traffic lights but it’s better to concentrate on FCDO advice,” he said. “That’s going to be your starting point and probably end point."
Gatenby continued: "We assume green destinations are going to have no FCDO advice against travel but with amber, they are going to be difficult – and we’re already seeing differences between amber destinations.
“FCDO may change advice because of terrorist incidents – it’s not the colours people should be looking at, it’s the FCDO advice because that’s the trigger [for cancellations and refunds].”
Sofia Stayte, head of aviation consumer policy and innovation at the Department for Transport, said that it was "very difficult to completely align” FCDO advice with the traffic light system as they had “different purposes”.
She also confirmed it was “not illegal” for people to travel to amber and red destinations, despite prime minister Boris Johnson urging UK residents not to go on holiday to amber countries.