European travel association Etoa welcomed the UK’s relaxation of restrictions on vaccinated arrivals from the EU and US from Monday, but warned it was “too late” for group business and the impact could be limited by consumers becoming more “risk averse”.
Etoa also warned the cost and complexity of Covid tests could deter would-be visitors and restrictions could remain in place “for the foreseeable future”.
In a communication to members, Etoa noted: “There is progress. From August 2 the UK will admit vaccinated travellers from the US and EU without quarantine.
“However, this overdue change comes too late to save much of the group travel trade’s US summer business.
“More worryingly, the general population appears to be more risk averse. A recent study by the LSE [London School of Economics] showed broad public support for stricter measures such as extending lockdown.”
The LSE study concluded: “Britain, like other countries, has seen overwhelming public support for ‘hard’ policy measures during the pandemic.
“Public support for these measures has remained consistently high. In a survey by YouGov . . . over 70% of the sample favoured postponing the easing of lockdown on 21 June.”
Etoa warned: “New restrictions and requirements are likely to remain with us for the foreseeable future. Once the health credential verification infrastructure is in place, will it disappear as quickly?
“A growing concern for industry is that there appears to be political cover for disproportionately onerous protocols remaining in place.”
Etoa also referred members to a recent Iata survey which “reinforces the concern that [the] cost and complexity of testing still deters cross-border visitors”.
The Iata passenger survey in mid-May found 86% of respondents willing to be tested in order to fly, but 70% said the cost of testing was a significant barrier to travel.
Etoa said: “We need more government action on this.”
The association noted the continuing difficulty in accessing information on travel restrictions and requirements.
It told members: “To design, sell and deliver travel product, we need accurate and comprehensive information. It is still lacking.
“Operators must stay on top of a range of websites and news feeds, and even much-improved resources like ReOpen EU are not infallible.
“Uncertainty surrounds recognition of a variety of health credentials, especially where QR code readers are not yet in use but health pass requirements are in force or shortly to be introduced.”
It noted: “Etoa has published a comprehensive index of travel protocols, primarily government websites, which can be navigated according to country of origin and destination.”