Across the globe, we have experienced the loss of things we took for granted and the collective power of continued, small actions.
By adhering to advice from scientists, all of us have played a part in getting closer to defeating the Covid-19 pandemic. Digital acceleration and social media allowed us to adapt and share information that changed the trajectory of critical decision-making.
Looking back to before Covid-19, the UK had the largest aviation market in Europe and the third largest globally, contributing £22 billion to GDP and directly providing 230,000 jobs. 16 months into the pandemic and travel to and from the UK continues to be limited in scope with current restrictions prohibiting travel at scale.
The impact of restrictions is staggering. Globally, more than 62 million travel and tourism related jobs were lost in 2020 alone, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. Of course, restrictions were necessary. But we’re now at a crossroads.
International travel connects the world, enabling families and friends to reunite, opportunities to arise, culture to flourish, perspectives to widen, and millions of families to benefit from employment.
The UK has led the vaccination race with 82% of the adult population receiving the first dose and 60% the second doses (as of 21 June), according to gov.uk. It was hoped that this would lead to an easing of restrictions. We are, after all, seeing the safe opening up of shops, restaurants, and bars but the UK travel industry remains in lockdown.
By contrast, we’re seeing a relaxation of travel restrictions across Europe. On the 11 June EU countries agreed to easing travel restrictions that will allow fully vaccinated tourists to avoid tests and quarantines. The revised guidelines come as the EU introduces Covid-19 certificates that will indicate whether a person is vaccinated, has immunity because they were previously infected or has had a recent negative test. The system is set to be ready by the 01 July.
Our neighbours in Europe have a timeline for travel reopening whereas the UK Travel Sector is still in limbo.
On the 23 June trade bodies across the aviation and travel industries are coming together for a travel industry day of action (#traveldayofaction) requesting the UK government to support a safe return to international travel.
The day of action will be calling on the government to:
- Allow international travel to return safely and in a risk managed way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan.
- Bring forward a package of tailored financial support to recognise that the unlocking of international travel, and hence businesses’ ability to trade and generate income, will be much slower than first anticipated, and more gradual than for businesses in the domestic economy.
On the day itself there are ways that we can support #traveldayofaction.
- UK residents can send a letter to their local MP urging them to speak up for our industry.
- On the day itself like, share, retweet posts on #traveldayofaction.
In the UK and beyond, individuals can make a difference by researching facts, writing to decision-makers and sharing on social channels, from reputable sources. Just as stemming the spread of the virus couldn’t have happened without each and every one of us, so to will safely re-opening international travel for the benefit of millions.