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Grant Shapps’ recent media interviews have angered the industry

Shapps spoke on Wednesday (February 10th) on Radio 4 and demanded: “Please do not book a vacation for something that is currently illegal, whether here or abroad.”

Shapps advised consumers to wait for vaccination to be fully rolled out before restarting the trip, but an Abta spokesperson said consumers could book “with confidence” through their members.

“If we wait for the UK vaccination program to be fully rolled out before people go overseas, we will lose another summer season to the pandemic – something the travel industry cannot afford,” the spokesman said.

Abta appealed to the government for a roadmap out of the crisis. “We need a reopening strategy that keeps pace with the evolving medical situation and understanding, and takes into account the role of optional vaccine certificates and collaborative testing to open up travel.”

The spokesman added, “The government must also provide tailored financial assistance to assist travel companies with the difficulties they are facing.”

The Balpa pilots union also joined the criticism, saying Shapps’ advice “means the aviation industry is essentially closed”.

It said: “If the effect of government action is to shut down this entire sector, it stands to reason that the government will have to compensate for lost business. The UK aviation sector cannot survive another summer of barely any flights.”

The European Travel Commission, which represents national tourism organizations, condemned the hotel quarantine measures introduced from February 15 with the risk of long prison sentences for non-compliance.

“We have to prevent travel from being classified in the same category as serious crime,” it said.

ETC President Luis Araujo added, “Travelers are not delinquents and shouldn’t have multiple legal ramifications when coming home from another country.

“During this crisis, we learned that blanket restrictions are not the way to go, especially in countries with already high community transmission rates.

“We firmly believe that the vaccination process, arrival and departure tests, along with efficient traceability systems and sanitary measures will safely restore movement between countries.”

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