TUI boss makes desperate plea to UK Government as travel rules see sudden U-turn

Following the decision of the Government over the weekend to remove Spain from the UK travel corridor list, holiday firms are grappling with the new rules to try and salvage the future of the industry. As a new wave of cancellations threatens to devastate holidaymakers, TUI’s managing director issued an urgent plea to the Government.

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Speaking on BBC News this morning, Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland, urged Boris Johnson to reconsider a new way to regulate travel and subsequent quarantine rules.

“We really want a regional policy,” he said.

“That will be really important now but if you cast your mind forward when something like the united states opens up, which we all hope for if there is a problem in New York but the Florida state is okay we don’t really want to have a quarantine on the whole of the United States so I think we really have to crack this regional quarantine idea.”

A regional quarantine would mean that travel bans and quarantine rules would be localised, based specifically on the destination within a country that holidaymakers have visited and the current coronavirus threat in that area.

For travel firms, a new wave of cancellations could be hugely detrimental.

Following the decision to remove Spain from the travel list, and additionally enforce quarantine measures on travellers returning from all Spanish destinations including the Balearic and Canary Islands, TUI was forced to axe thousands of holidays.

“TUI UK have taken the decision to cancel all holidays to mainland Spain up to and including Sunday 9 August 2020,” the travel operator said.

“We know how much our customers look forward to their holiday abroad and some will be able to accommodate the new quarantine restrictions.”

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Customers due to travel to all areas of Spain between July 27 and August 9 will be able to cancel or amend holidays.

They will also be given the option to pursue a full refund or rebook travel.

However, despite the devastation for holiday hopefuls, Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the Government “cannot apologise” for the sudden U-turn on travel.

Speaking on Sky News on Sunday, Mr Raab said: “The cases in Spain, the data came we got was on Friday, showed a big jump right across mainland Spain, that was then assessed yesterday afternoon and we took the decision as swiftly as we could.”

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He added: “I understand it is disruptive for those going through this who are in Spain or have been considering going but we must though be able to take swift, decisive action to protect the UK because we’ve made such progress in getting the virus down and prevent the virus re-taking hold in the UK.”

Though the Canary and Balearic islands are currently not under the Government’s nonessential travel ban, holidaymakers do face a mandatory quarantine if they are returning to the UK from either hotspot.

Britons who disobey quarantine have been warned of huge fines if they flout the regulations.

If found breaking the isolation period, those who have returned from Spain on or after July 26 could be issued fines of up to £1,000.

Officials from the region have now warned of the potential damage this could do to tourism.

Speaking on BBC News this morning Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez issued a plea to the UK Government.

She explained: “Efforts at the moment are focussed around excluding from the quarantine measures the Balearic and the Canary Islands for two reasons.

“Number one, these are islands they are very safe territories.

“Number two the epidemiological data is extremely positive well below epidemiological data in the UK.”

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