U.K. Travel Industry Pushes Parliament to add Popular Destinations to Quarantine-Free List

The U.K.'s travel industry is pushing Parliament to add popular vacation destinations to the government's quarantine-free list known as its "green list."

Hundreds of travel industry employees took to the streets to protest outside of Parliament in London to call for an easing of travel restrictions as others demonstrated in Edinburgh and Belfast, the Associated Press reported. U.K. citizens can travel to just 11 countries and territories specified on the "green list" without having to quarantine when returning home.

Derek Jones, the head of luxury travel company Kuoni, describes the outbound travel industry as "decimated" by the pandemic. "We are united in one message today," Jones said. "We want to see the safe reopening of international travel alongside targeted financial support for businesses which have not been able to trade for well over a year."

Around 195,000 jobs have been lost in the U.K.'s travel industry according to travel association ABTA.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Travel Industry Workers Protest Outside Parliament
Travel industry workers protest outside the Houses of Parliament, on June 23, 2021 in London, England. The industry bodies are calling for the restoration of international travel and greater financial support for an industry that will continue to be hobbled by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The U.K.'s travel industry held a day of action Wednesday, pressing the British government to allow more quarantine-free travel and provide cash-strapped businesses with much-needed financial support.

Industry workers, including travel agents, pilots and cabin crew from airlines such as British Airways and easyJet, gathered outside the parliament in London.

Jones said the outbound travel sector has been "decimated" as well as by the government's "haphazard" response.

According to industry body ABTA many more jobs remain at risk.

None of the popular destinations in Europe are on the "green list."

"The evidence and data exists for government to make transparent policy decisions and the forthcoming review must provide clarity on how and when restrictions can be safely reduced for travel between low-risk countries and for vaccinated and recovered passengers," said Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives U.K.

The government is set to update its traffic-light system in the coming days, but few changes are expected. There is speculation that Malta and Spain's ever-popular Balearic Islands, which include Majorca and Ibiza, may be added to the list.

Malta and Spain are currently on the "amber list" alongside other popular summer hotspots such as Portugal, Italy, Greece and the United States. A 10-day quarantine period at home is required for people returning from those locations.

The industry has accused the government of undermining its system, by urging people to avoid holidays to locations on the amber list.

A debate is taking place within the government as to whether people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus should be eligible for quarantine-free travel if they return from one of the countries on the amber list.

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government has provided unprecedented financial support, and expressed hope that "the world could open up" soon.

"I'm optimistic that the world is catching up with where we are in our vaccination program," he said.

One problem the sector faces is that infections in the U.K. are on the rise, whereas they are falling across much of Europe — on Wednesday, government figures showed another 16,135 new infections, the highest daily rate since Feb. 6. The divergence has prompted many governments in the continent to slap tougher restrictions on those arriving from the U.K.

U.K. 'Travel Day of Action' Protest
People who work in the UK aviation and travel industry take part in a 'Travel Day of Action' protest across the street from the Houses of Parliament in London, Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The protest on Wednesday was attended by people from across the UK aviation and travel industry calling on the British government to safely reopen international travel for the peak summer season to protect travel jobs and businesses amidst Britain's widely praised rollout of coronavirus vaccines. Matt Dunham/AP Photo

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