Uncertainty still surrounds summer holidays abroad amid concerns that the costs of things like COVID tests could put people off.
The travel industry has called for clarity and cheaper testing following findings by the government's Global Travel Taskforce into international travel.
It is still not definite whether foreign holidays will be allowed from May 17 or which destinations people can visit without having to self-isolate when they come back.
Announcing the taskforce's findings, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said a traffic light system would be used to categorise countries based on risk, but the Department for Transport says it won't decide “which countries will be on which list” until early next month.
Shapps also announced a “framework” for restarting overseas travel for holidays which would require all arrivals to take pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests.
He said the post-arrival tests would have to be PCR tests which cost around £120, despite pleas from the travel sector for the use of cheaper and faster lateral flow tests.
The announcement sparked fury from the travel industry, with EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren saying the plans are “a blow to all travellers” and risk “making flying only for the wealthy”.
He added: “As the rest of British society and the economy opens up, it makes no sense to treat travel, particularly to low-risk countries, differently.”
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Mark Tanzer, boss of travel trade organisation Abta, said allowing the use of lateral flow tests would “make international travel more accessible and affordable whilst still providing an effective mitigation against reimportation of the virus”.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said the announcement “does not represent a reopening of travel as promised by ministers”.
The Business Travel Association (BTA) branded the report “yet another hammer blow” for business travel, and called on the government to “at the very least” maintain the furlough scheme for the travel industry until September.
BTA CEO Clive Wratten said: "Whilst we welcome the acknowledgement of the importance of business and leisure travel to the UK economy, this theoretical framework provides no more certainty than the Prime Minister’s brief comments on Monday.
"The traffic light system is something we have long campaigned for. However, it is only one piece of the jigsaw if the aviation, business, and leisure travel industries are to survive.
"We urgently ask the Government to at the very least maintain the current furlough scheme until September for the entire travel supply chain. This will hopefully enable us to contribute to UK plc as soon as it is safe to do so."
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