Scottish agents ‘disappointed’ at lack of devolved amber list update

Scottish agents say are “disappointed” the devolved government has not immediately followed the UK government in relaxing restrictions on double-jabbed travellers from amber list countries.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed today that fully-vaccinated holidaymakers returning from amber list countries will no longer have to self-isolate from July 19 – but the rule only applies to England as the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make their own decisions on the matter.

Jaqueline Dobson, president of Glasgow-headquartered travel agency Barrhead Travel, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Scottish government has not taken action today to open up travel for Scottish holidaymakers and those travelling to visit loved ones and family abroad.

“Delays to this critical announcement means that this summer season could effectively be lost for many Scottish couples and families for much-loved holidays abroad.

Dobson said failure to follow the easing of restrictions “will have far-reaching effects”, adding that the “level of opening up [in England] has not been matched in Scotland”.

She added: “Our English counterparts – industry and holidaymakers – are getting ready to make plans from July 19 – but once again, Scotland is left in limbo. These plans were tentatively announced in July so we have to ask, why is this still under consideration?

“Opening up travel to many destinations – whether for holidays, to visit loved ones or for business – is overdue and makes sense when so many adults have had a double jab. Acting sooner rather than later will make a huge difference, not only in saving people’s summers, but in making travel more accessible to people when they don’t need to self-isolate on their return.

“We appreciate the need for a cautious approach however the Scottish government’s delay in confirming this move means that the current confusing and costly position will continue to apply for Scottish travellers who are already subject to testing that is more than double the cost than in England.”

Dobson also warned that a delay of the relaxation in rules in Scotland poses “a significant risk” that Scottish holidaymakers depart and arrive from English airports.

“What Scottish travellers and the industry desperately need is the introduction of a truly four nations approach so that Scots can enjoy the same opportunities as holidaymakers in England and so Scottish businesses do not fall any further behind during the this crucial recovery period.”

The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association president, Joanne Dooey, said: “It would be churlish not to say that any moves towards the reopening of travel regulations are welcome, however, Scottish travel agents and travellers still need to know that Scotland will swiftly follow suit.

“Travel agents have been forced to remain open for 16 months now to help their clients rebook – sometimes for the sixth or seventh time – yet are still receiving no income.

“There is little, if any, customer confidence in travel at the moment and whole sector needs the Scottish government to get behind a restart to international travel and boost the Scottish economy.

“If the prime minister’s strategy is, from July 19, to remove legal curbs on people’s behaviour and to end restrictions and allowing people to make their own decisions, then surely people should be allowed to travel internationally with more choice.

“We remain in consultation with the Scottish government to outline the way forward for Scottish travel and the role testing and vaccination certification will play in this.”

An Abta spokesperson said: “It is vitally important that the Scottish government adopts a similar approach to support hard pressed travel agents and tour operators, and we also need ministers to consider again the need for further financial support for the travel industry.

“Already a large portion of the critical summer season has been lost, and it must be remembered that previous grants for the industry were issued as far back as January. Trading conditions were already very tough then and now we’re six months on, still without any significant improvement in business.”

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