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The UK travel industry is stepping up pressure on ministers to back the hard-hit sector ahead of an expected review of restrictions on overseas travel.

Representatives of air and seaports, tour operators and travel agents were among the participants in a day of protests in London, Edinburgh and Belfast.

The industry is frustrated with a lack of sufficient financial support and wants the government to reopen travel “safely and in a way that manages risk”.

British holidaymakers currently face expensive and onerous requirements to visit almost all major travel destinations, including mainland Europe and the United States.

Brittany Ferries, Manchester Airports Group and the Abta trade association for tour operators and travel agents took part in the protest on Wednesday with pilots and cabin crew.

“Aviation has been the sector hardest hit by the pandemic, yet [the] the government does not seem to appreciate its economic value or trust its own system for restarting international travel, ”said managing director Charlie Cornish of MAG, the UK’s largest airport group.

© Getty Images

The Brittany Ferries shipping company, which serves holiday destinations in France and Spain from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth, said “the whole sector is at risk”.

“Let data-driven secure travel resume,” the British Airline Pilots’ Association tweeted. The pilots’ union also called for “financial support across the industry”.

MAG estimates that nearly 16,000 passengers will pass through the terminals at Manchester, East Midlands and London Stansted airports this year, up from nearly 220,000 in 2019.

Southend Airport in Essex only handled 500 passengers in the first five months of 2021, up from 650,000 during the same period in 2019.

While most industry players agree that some countries should be on a travel ‘red list’ to reduce the risk of coronavirus variants entering the UK, representatives want more destinations to be included on the ‘red list’ green list ”without quarantine.

The government last updated the lists three weeks ago.

© AFP via Getty Images


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