With Britain adding France, the most visited country in the world, on its quarantine list, the efforts and hopes of Europe to restart its huge travel and tourism sector has been dealt a severe blow.
According to the latest guidance from the UK Department of Transport, updated late on Thursday, a mandatory quarantine of 14 days have to be undergone for travelers arriving from France into the UK starting on Saturday.
On Thursday, France reported 2,669 new coronavirus infections which prompted the British government decision. Netherlands, Monaco and Malta will also be added on the list by the UK government.
News of the UK government’s decision rocked travel stocks as millions of hopeful vacationers were disappoint. An 8 per cent plunge in shares of EasyJet and tour operator TUI were recorded while more than 6 per cent plunge in shares of British Airways parent IAG and a 6 per cent drop in Ryanair was reported.
After Spain, the second most popular destination for Britons is France. UK has already put Spain on the government quarantine list.
According to the UK Tourism Alliance, a lobby group, more than 10.3 million trips to Franc were made by UK residents in 2019 during which they about £5.2 billion ($6.8 billion). And for Britain, France is a vital source for tourism as the country accounted for 3.6 million visitors to Britain last year which was second only to visitors from the United States. France has vowed to apply reciprocal measures.
“It’s another devastating blow to the travel industry already reeling from the worst crisis in its history,” Airlines UK told the media.
For airlines and passengers alike, the “broad-brush, weekly ‘stop and go’ changes” to travel corridors are equally disruptive, said the industry body even as it urged the UK government to implement quarantine measures that are more targeted.
The government should test all international arrivals but only those who test positive for the virus infection should be quarantined, the industry body added. Calls to the government for a testing program to allow the rapid restoration of transatlantic air travel have also been given b y airlines.
Calls for a more “pragmatic approach” to quarantine were echoed by the International Air Transport Association.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, within the European Union, there is a risk that the travel and tourism sector could lose as much as €1.2 trillion ($1.4 trillion) in GDP and 18.3 million jobs in this current year alone and the new restrictive measures to tourism will further hamper efforts to restart and revamp the tourism industry in the EU.
According to the UN World Tourism Organization, with more than 89 million tourist arrivals, France was the most visited destination in the world in 2018.
“While many Europeans are keen to travel again and enjoy summer 2020, they don’t have the confidence to book a trip given the lack of clarity around border barriers, availability of transportation, along with the health and safety protocols in their chosen destination,” the European Travel Commission, a grouping of national tourism organizations, said in a statement Thursday.
(Adapted from CNN.com)