Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “While we welcome the incredible progress the UK government has made on the vaccine rollout programme, delaying the return of international travel until at least mid-May, could mean the Travel & Tourism sector simply won’t survive and struggling SMEs will just disappear.
“The sector was banking its hopes on a quicker return to international travel, so there will be widespread dismay at this news. Its return is crucial if the UK economy is to recover from the ravages of the pandemic, given the sector generates £200 billion to the UK’s GDP and supports almost four million jobs.
“In our recent letter to Boris Johnson, WTTC’s plan to revive international travel recommended an international coordinated approach, led by the UK, with public and private collaboration, to establish an international mobility framework to allow the safe movement of people, and remove restrictions such as blanket quarantines.
“It also included the UK government moving from risk assessments based on countries to individual travellers, through a robust and comprehensive testing regime supported by technology and digital health passes.
“WTTC’s plan also addresses reinforcing health and hygiene protocols, including mandatory mask wearing in addition to the vaccination rollout, as part of an integral solution; and providing major support packages to Travel & Tourism businesses which are struggling to keep their heads above the water.
“Travel and Tourism is one of the most diverse sectors in the world, in which 54% of those employed are women. Delaying the reopening of travel will not only have a profound impact on the nearly three million jobs affected by the restrictions to curb COVID-19.”