Westoe Travel co-owner says new 'green watchlist' for overseas travel has only added to the industry's concerns

The co-owner of a South Shields travel agency says the Government’s new ‘green watchlist’ for overseas travel has only left the industry with another headache.
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Ministers have drawn up the plans as pressure grows from industry sectors and business lobbies ahead of Whitehall’s postponed final unlocking of lockdown restrictions.

Under the ‘green watch list’, holidaymakers travelling to destinations such Madeira and the Balearic Islands will not be met with added restrictions – but must be prepared for the area to move into the ‘amber’ zone, meaning they would have to self-isolate upon return.

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The Government has defended what it describes as its ‘cautious’ approach to overseas travel in recent weeks.

But Graeme Brett, of Westoe Travel in Westoe Road, said the added uncertainty of the new traffic light system category was leaving holiday providers with a fresh headache.

"Anybody that books (to go to those destinations) has got to be prepared for a change at short notice,” he said.

"If they’re out there and it changes to amber, that means they’ve got to be able to quarantine when they come back.

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"If you’re retired, you work from home or you have school or university holidays, it’s not such a big problem. But a lot of people who have to go to work won't be able to take that risk.

"Because of this, we’re still seeing a lot of people booking holidays in the UK. We really need July and August to go ahead in terms of a full reopening in order to see the industry through until next year.”

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said this week: “It’s right that we continue with this cautious approach, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable.”

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He said: "At the moment, the industry isn’t getting anything – either in terms of financial compensation or clarity from the Government around what the rules will look like.

"It needs to get the travel industry back up and running as soon as possible. Otherwise we’re looking at potentially hundreds of thousands of job losses come autumn.”

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