Visit Britain envisages a potential 59pc decline in inbound tourism to the UK this year, depriving businesses of almost £20bn in revenues with previous forecasts. That does not take into account the “travel corridors” allowing passengers from some countries expected to be introduced, but does assume the quarantine measures will last for less than a month.
Airlines are launching a legal challenge to the scheme, which has been widely criticised across industry, unlike the broad acceptance of the original lockdown and hygiene measures.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, says: “Public safety is obviously the priority, but with hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk, we need to know that decisions and restrictions are made on an entirely science-led basis. There also needs to be a clear idea of how long the quarantine will be in place and what criteria must be fulfilled to enable its removal.”
Joss Croft, head of trade association UK Inbound, stresses that the Government needs to support the sector financially if it is putting in such strict measures that will harm businesses. “The inbound tourism industry has earned very little revenue since March,” he says. “Viable tourism businesses that rely wholly on inbound visitors will need to receive additional and extended financial support from the Government, if their businesses are to survive.”
Emmanuelle Spriet-Toussaint, chief executive of E-Voyages, which arranges tours to Cornwall, Kent, Edinburgh and other beauty spots, is already feeling the effects of the quarantine, in summer cancellations.
“The main tourism season between April and September – this is pretty much what’s being wiped out by Covid-19,” she says. “It’s also quite bad for the image of the UK – a perception that has already been bruised by the uncertainty due to Brexit.”
The measures are also hitting the London market, where hotels rely on visitors from abroad. Natalie Raw, of the boutique hotel Zetter Townhouse, cites a 10-day group booking that has held back from confirming due to the quarantine measures. “People are confused,” she says. “They are certainly not signing on the dotted line because they’re waiting to see what will happen.”