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Published on Thursday, June 3, 2021

WTTC: UK risks becoming isolated

The UK risks becoming isolated if it continues to keep borders closed to meaningful international outbound travel, the World Travel & Tourism Council says.

The WTTC warned forward bookings for international flights are lagging far behind the increased capacity generated by extra flights scheduled.

Airlines have dramatically increased flights to popular holiday destinations - many of which are still on the government's 'amber list' - in anticipation of increased demand when they move to green.

According to travel data and analytics expert Cirium, in the two weeks following the start of the government's new traffic light system for travel on 17 May, scheduled flights from the UK to Greece soared by over 2,000%.

 There was a 435% rise in flights to Spain, compared to two weeks earlier.

However, while airlines have been ramping up capacity, analysis of recent ticket sales by WTTC's partner ForwardKeys, shows this hasn't been matched by bookings.

On average during the week of 14 May, airline ticket sales from the UK to Greece and Spain fell 37% and 44% respectively week on week.

Data shows at the end of last month, there were more tickets being cancelled than new bookings being made, while British holidaymakers expressed disappointment over the UK government's limited green list and expensive testing and quarantine requirements for travel to 'amber' list countries.

The immediate future remains uncertain but there looks to be more positive news with significantly more tickets being sold for flights later this month and into July.

 Virginia Messina, WTTC Senior Vice President, said: "WTTC is calling upon the government to allow all those who are fully vaccinated, or can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, to travel freely.

"We are seeing many countries, particularly those in the EU, allowing travellers that have been vaccinated or can show a negative test result, which will provide a boost to their economies in such a pivotal time."

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