Travel and aviation groups dismayed by new Covid restrictions – .

Travel and aviation groups dismayed by new Covid restrictions – .

Travel agencies and the aviation industry have reacted with concern to tightening international border restrictions after governments including the UK and Israel imposed additional tests and quarantine measures or outright bans on foreign arrivals.

Sector shares had already fallen on Friday as the spread of the Omicron variant shook investor confidence.

ABTA, the trade body for the travel industry, said the introduction of mandatory PCR testing for international arrivals in the UK was a “blow to travel companies”.

“These changes will increase the cost of vacations for people, which will undoubtedly have an impact on consumer demand and hold back the recovery of the industry, so it is essential that this decision is carefully considered and that the restrictions are lifted quickly.” if it becomes clear that there is no risk to the UK vaccination program, ”ABTA said.

The industry had just started to recover after 20 months of volatile restrictions and forced shutdowns. As Christmas approached, an increasing number of companies had started planning events or resuming sending staff overseas.

In a statement released Friday, the International Air Transport Association said governments must find “safe alternatives” to closing borders and that “travel restrictions are not a long-term solution to controlling variants of Covid ”.

Events such as the Paris Conference, a large gathering of business leaders from the energy and industrial sectors, are still scheduled to take place next week.

An executive from a large hotel group said that since restrictions began to be reimposed in countries like Austria and Germany last week, the situation had “accelerated” and although major events did not have not yet been canceled, they expected conversations with customers on Monday. .

Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said that if public health “is to be a priority,” governments have acted too hastily and an international protocol that standardized restrictions should be introduced. “The introduction of expensive PCR testing and mandatory self-isolation for all travelers until the results are returned will have a significant impact on business travel,” he said.

Paul Charles, adviser to the World Travel and Tourism Council and Airlines and Hotels, said there had been a larger-than-usual drop in overnight airline bookings.

“I think the new self-isolation measures will wipe out most inbound business and leisure travel during a critical time until Christmas,” he said.

Karen Dee, CEO of the Airport Operators Association, said the organization understood the need for temporary measures, but added that they should “be in place more than absolutely necessary.”

Travelers preparing to return to the UK who ordered a lateral flow test are now required to purchase a PCR test instead.

David Frost, managing director of SATSA, South Africa’s inbound tourism trade body, said travel agencies have “already seen thousands of bookings canceled” for the country’s “critical summer period”.

A weekend survey by the organization suggested that there had already been more than 1.5 million vacation cancellations in the days following detection of the Omicron variant. The UK has historically been South Africa’s largest market for inbound tourists.

Spain has also changed its travel requirements for inbound travelers from the UK, one of its main source markets for tourism. From December 1, travelers must be fully vaccinated instead of being able to justify a negative Covid test.

Retailers in the UK have also said they need more clarity on reintroducing mandatory face coverings in shops and on public transport. Helen Dickinson, Managing Director of the British Retail Consortium, said “Retailers will play their part in communicating the new face covering rules, but they should not be the ones enforcing those rules”.

Incidents of abuse against store staff were around 450 per day before the pandemic, but have increased since then as retailers try to ensure customers comply with government restrictions, the trade body said.

Additional reports by Ian Smith


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