The Scottish Government will have to accept the traffic light system for foreign holidays or risk holidaymakers flying from English airports, travel agents have warned.
There has been a boom in holiday sales down south after UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a list of quarantine-free green list countries, including Portugal and Israel, from May 17. Holiday company Tui said it had the best day of sales this year, with more than half of holidaymakers booking trips to Portugal.
However, industry body the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) said there had been no increase in holiday bookings in Scotland because arrivals to Scottish airports must still enter hotel quarantine.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously told Scots May 17 was the earliest date for the lifting of restrictions on foreign holidays.
Shapps said on Friday he expected Scotland to sign up to the same traffic light system as England. Wales and Northern Ireland are also expected to opt in.
Joanne Dooey, president of the SPAA, said: “Scots travellers lack confidence in booking. Confidence can only return once we know if Scotland will follow suit. We need the first minister to agree to the four nations approach.
“The key concern is that, the longer we have to wait for the Scottish position to be clear, the higher the chance that travellers will opt to travel south of the border for departures, depriving Scottish airports, travel operators and the wider economy of the expenditure.”
The Scottish Government said the new administration would announce its plans as soon as possible, with a spokesman suggesting there could be an announcement as early as today.
Sturgeon remains concerned about the importation of new variants of Covid-19 which could lead to outbreaks similar to those seen last summer which ultimately resulted in a second lockdown.
This view was backed yesterday by public health professor Linda Bauld who said: “I know people are disappointed that they can’t go to France or Spain, but at the moment if I could point to one area that I’d be most anxious about it would be variants and importation of infection.”
On Friday, Shapps said: “All of the four chief medical officers of the Joint Bio Security Centre have met and agreed the principles that sit behind the traffic light system, so there is a large degree of agreement and cooperation in developing the system.”
He added that the rules across the UK would be broadly similar in design to avoid loopholes which could see Scots booking a holiday to a green list destination from an English airport.
AGS Airports, which owns Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton, said anything other than a coordinated approach would lead to confusion for passengers who will travel south to avoid quarantine rules.
Shapps said when the traffic light system goes live holidaymakers should not be travelling to countries on the amber list, which includes holiday hotspots Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Yesterday, travel industry bosses accused the UK Government of being too cautious in its approach to unlocking international travel.
Virgin Atlantic called for the US to be added to the green list for travel to and from England, while EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said the decision to put so few European countries into the green tier was not justified by the data or the science.
Airlines UK, an industry body which represents UK carriers, said the UK Government must make major additions to the green list at the next review point in three weeks.
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