Following the news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to approve plans to force some travellers arriving to the UK to quarantine in hotels to limit the spread of new coronavirus variants, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)have called on the government to implement a support package.
The Prime Minister has already discussed proposals for arrivals to quarantine in designated hotels to ensure they follow self-isolation rules with senior ministers yesterday (Tuesday 26) with an announcement expected imminently.
Various options are said to be on the table, however Whitehall sources suggested that ministers may opt for a more limited system after aviation leaders warned that introducing tougher border rules would be “catastrophic” for the industry.
Hotel quarantine could wipe out more than £380,000 from the UK economy every minute, says WTTC.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “WTTC urgently calls upon the UK government to extend the furlough scheme for those employed in the beleaguered Travel & Tourism sector.
“Without it and a comprehensive support package for businesses up and down the country which have been devastated by the pandemic, the UK’s Travel & Tourism sector could be brought to its knees.
“International travel will all but wiped out and according to WTTC analysis, the UK economy could lose a staggering £380,000 every minute – or almost £548 million every day.
“The government has a duty to share its own economic impact assessment, so we fully understand the effect these measures will have on the sector and the wider economy.
“If the UK is to have any hope of reviving the economy after the pandemic, we have to protect a sector which will be instrumental in kick starting it.”
The WTTC also stated that it fears the crippling impact of the new proposals being considered by the UK government would cause irreparable damage to a sector which contributes nearly £200 billion to the UK economy.
The concern follows nine months of devastating travel restrictions, which has left scores of businesses crushed, millions of jobs lost or put at risk, and confidence to travel at an all-time low.
Ms Guevara added: “The UK Travel & Tourism sector is in a fight for survival – it’s that simple. With the sector in such a fragile state, the introduction of hotel quarantines by the UK government could force the complete collapse of Travel & Tourism.
“Travellers and holidaymakers would simply not book business or leisure trips knowing they would have to pay to isolate in a hotel, causing a drastic drop in revenues throughout the sector.
“From airlines to travel agents, travel management companies to holiday companies and beyond, the effect on UK travel businesses would be devastating, further delaying the economic recovery. Even the threat of such action is enough to cause consternation and serious alarm.
“WTTC believes the measures introduced by the government just last week – proof of a pre-departure COVID-19 test, followed by short quarantine and another test if necessary, could stop the virus in its tracks, and still allow the freedom to travel safely.
“A number of countries, such as Iceland, have successfully implemented a testing regime on arrival, which has curbed the spread, whilst ensuring borders remain open. So, it’s crucial these measures are given some time to work.
“Despite the current gloom, we truly believe there is room for optimism and a brighter future ahead. Business travel, visiting families and holidays can return with a combination of an internationally recognised testing regime, vaccines and mandatory mask wearing.
“These simple but highly effective measures, if implemented properly, could aid the revival of a sector which will be essential to powering the UK and global economic recovery.”
WTTC maintains despite months of forced quarantines post travel, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest they work.
Even the government’s own figures show quarantines have not proved to be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Community transmission continues to pose a far greater peril than international travel.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), along with many other major organisations, have said quarantines are not an effective public health measure and only hinder travel.