The latest traffic light announcement by the government is “a step in the right direction” say operators and agents.
The update saw the United Arab Emirates move to the amber list, Spain remained on amber after speculation is may turn red, seven countries were added to the green list and Mexico switched to the red list.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan said: “It’s a step in the right direction.”
However, he said “the France decision was only putting something right that should never have happened in the first place” and stressed the industry and travelling public still needed more “clarity around testing” and a “sensible, pragmatic way to move [countries] from one colour to another”.
Morgan added: “The poor [travellers] in Mexico are now trying to find their way home by Sunday; it’s a horror show for those people.”
Gold Medal managing director Lisa McAuley welcomed the decision to take the UAE off the red list but agreed the news was not good for Mexico.
She said: “From the point of view of the UAE it’s good news, it’s a step in the right direction.”
But she believes the decision feels like the government is “giving with one hand and taking away with the other”.
UAE sales for long-haul specialist Gold Medal had “dropped significantly” as a result of being placed on the red list, McAuley said, with most sales for 2022 rather than this year. But she said the first UAE booking taken by the company after the latest announcement was for £25,000 and for a “much shorter lead in time”.
McAuley added: “It’s nice to see some long-haul sales for 2021.”
Caribtours managing director Paul Clearly agreed the change for the UAE was “really good news” while Mexico’s shift to red was “a shame, but expected”, while he expressed hope that the amber plus category had now been ditched completely.
“Overall, I am relieved,” he said. “It’s imperfect but a step in the right direction. I’m pleased Spain and Portugal didn’t go to amber plus. I think that threat [of amber plus] has gone; I hope it has. People who wanted to book Spain were not booking because they were getting cold feet.”
Morgan called for the traffic light system to be simplified to just red and green to make it easier for the industry and holidaymakers to understand, echoing calls from the WTTC.
He compared it to driving a car, adding: “When the lights are green you know what to do, when it’s red you know what to do. Making it red and green would help.”