The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has written an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning of a daily loss of £639 million in the UK in July if the restart of international travel is postponed.

The global tourism body predicts that the UK faces a possible £19.8 billion loss “if travel is effectively delayed until August”. It adds that 218,000 jobs in the sector are also at serious risk of being lost “if no action is taken now”.

The open letter, signed by WTTC members including TUI, Silversea Cruises and The Travel Corporation, urged the government to take advantage of its successful vaccine rollout to resume safe international travel and reactivate its economy. The letter also outlined the following four-step plan to recovery:

  1. Reopen international travel by allowing fully vaccinated citizens to travel freely without quarantine, both inbound and outbound. They should be able to visit countries with similar vaccination levels and with proven low-infection rates, such as the EU, the US and Canada, through a data-driven transparent approach which will help restore consumer confidence.
  2. Remove PCR testing requirements for travel from countries on the green list and replace by a rapid test or no test.
  3. Require only one test for those travelling from countries on the amber list of travel destinations. PCR tests are expensive and inconvenient, and their use will continue to deter people from travelling for either business or leisure.
  4. Set a date to reopen international travel – to be announced on June 24 and implemented by July 19, in line with the final unlocking of social measures in England.

Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President WTTC, commented:

“Stalling the resumption of international travel could cost the country dearly. We simply can’t afford any further delay – we are running out of time and money, with many more businesses in danger of going bust, which would result in more jobs losses. However, there are steps that the government can take now so that by June 24 when the green list of travel destinations is updated, we can get travel safely moving again, bring certainty to a market begging for stability and help power the economic recovery.

“Only through these measures will the future be brighter for many and will we be able to achieve a long term, inclusive and sustainable recovery. The restoration of free cross-border mobility is essential to help drive the economic recovery from the pandemic.”

This open letter comes amid reports that the government will introduce quarantine-free international travel for fully vaccinated travellers in England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that ministers are currently looking into scrapping the requirement to isolate on return from ‘amber’ countries.

Earlier this year, the WTTC revealed that the collapse of the UK’s travel and tourism sector led to a loss of £148 billion for the UK economy in 2020.