Airlines and holiday firms have demanded that the Government reviews its approach to foreign travel advice.
Trade bodies Airlines UK and Abta said their members are struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic because the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) continues to advise against all but essential travel to the vast majority of countries.
The position invalidates most travel insurance policies, meaning many potential leisure and businesses trips are being cancelled.
There are countries on the banned list that we think could be opened upTim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK
Abta suspects the FCDO’s travel advice is being used to control the virus crisis in the UK rather than assess the risk to travellers visiting other nations.
From December 15, people arriving in England from high-risk countries will be able to end their 14-day quarantine early if they receive a negative coronavirus test taken at least five days after they land.
But Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, warned that airlines will only be able to “fully take advantage” of this if travel advice is also amended.
He said: “This incoherent approach risks adding to the tens of thousands of job losses we have already seen, which have devastated the aviation sector this year.
“This is not about sending people to dangerous places. Nobody wants that and the Foreign Office is absolutely right to rule this out.
“But there are countries on the banned list that we think could be opened up on either a national or regional basis.
“Reviewing travel advice will give our beleaguered industry its own much needed shot in the arm this winter.”
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, claimed there is “no recovery in sight for the travel industry” while the FCDO’s stance remains.
He went on: “We have been concerned that Foreign Office travel advice has drifted away from its purpose of protecting the health and safety of travellers in destination.
“The Foreign Office travel advice should be reviewed urgently so that advice against non-essential travel in relation to Covid-19 is restricted to destinations where it is clear that the risk to travellers is unacceptably high, based on clear and transparent criteria.
“The travel industry was among the first to be affected by the pandemic and it will be the last to recover.”
Andrew Flintham, managing director of tour operator Tui, commented: “As a package holiday provider we always look to the Foreign Office advice to confirm if we can operate our flights and holidays overseas.
“This has been well-established and respected guidance to protect the health and safety of our customers whilst abroad.
“However, we are concerned that it is currently being used to ban entry into countries without detailing what the risk is to travellers.”