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Tourism bosses urge Sajid Javid to ease international travel restrictions

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Travel industry leaders have called on the new health secretary Sajid Javid to back the easing of international travel restrictions in time for the peak summer period.

A letter signed by 14 heads of travel companies and organisations, including ABTA, Airlines UK and Tourism Alliance, said the pandemic “has been a catastrophe for our industry and the wider economy” and that “hundreds of thousands of jobs have now been lost, and many more remain at risk”.

It says: “This summer season is the most important ever for the UK travel industry. A safe and meaningful restart to international travel is possible, but it is vital that decisions are taken quickly.

“We implore you and your Cabinet colleagues to act decisively to save jobs and businesses, and to set the industry on the road to recovery in a risk-based manner. For example, today we are seeing other countries, many with lower rates of vaccination than the UK, begin to reopen their borders and enable their citizens to travel again particularly through recognition of vaccination status.

“We are encouraged that the Government has confirmed an intention to relax rules for fully vaccinated people travelling from amber destinations, and to remove statements discouraging travelling to these places. However, these changes must be implemented quickly – at the latest alongside the lifting of domestic restrictions in July – if they are to make a meaningful difference to the UK travel industry.”

The letter follows last month’s ‘day of action’ which saw a coalition of travel companies and organisations come together to persuade the government to reopen the sector and give more financial support to businesses.

ABTA estimates that 195,000 people working in the UK travel industry have either lost their job or are at risk of losing their job due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The letter reiterated calls for more financial support for the travel sector, including an extension of furlough support.

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