The UK government needs to start using the traffic light system “as intended” to get international travel restarted this summer.
Abta’s Travel Matters virtual conference heard the industry “could work with” the current traffic light system if the government used the framework in a “transparent” way.
Confidence in the system has been undermined through the sudden removal of Portugal from the green list earlier this month and expectations are low about many countries being added to the quarantine-free list during the next review due later this week.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “Unfortunately the government broke it before it even began. The framework is there but we’ve not had the opportunity to implement it as intended.
“It’s something we can work with if it works in a very transparent manner. The communication when countries move and the criteria associated with that is very opaque. Businesses and consumers cannot plan and we cannot advise.
“There is an opportunity to restart international travel safely using that mechanism. The government has caused a huge dent in consumer confidence.”
Garry Wilson, chief executive of easyJet holidays, said there had been “great optimism” about the work of the Global Travel Taskforce with the industry in February.
“When the traffic light system was announced, we thought it was fair enough,” he added. “The framework is fine, we can work with that. But it was thrown out in a matter of days.”
Wilson also questioned how data was being used to determine the green list and why countries with low Covid rates, such as the Balearic islands and Malta, remained classified as amber countries.
“When we ask for data to understand their decisions, we are just not given it,” he said. “It’s caused huge confusion and frustration from consumers and the industry.”