‘Don’t book foreign holidays,’ urges transport secretary

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<p>Bright outlook? Spain’s Costa Blanca</p> (Simon Calder)

Bright outlook? Spain’s Costa Blanca

(Simon Calder)

The transport secretary has once again warned prospective travellers not to book summer holidays.

This morning, Grant Shapps was asked on the BBC Today programme by Mishal Hussain: “Still too early to book foreign holidays?”

Mr Shapps said: “Yes, in as much as we know that the Global Travel Taskforce that I’m running reports on 12 April.

“We’ve said that it will remain illegal to travel internationally till at least 17 May. That’s an ‘at the earliest’ date.”

At present all holidays are banned under the “stay at home” rules that apply across the UK.

The 17 May date in the government’s roadmap applies only to travellers from England; Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have not yet indicated any dates.

Greece and Cyprus have indicated they will open to vaccinated holidaymakers before then.

The transport secretary said: “Remember you will not be able to travel for leisure before 17 May.

“Beyond that, I would encourage people to look towards 12 April when we publish the Global Travel Taskforce report.

“There are lots of questions, the answers to which we simply don’t know yet about how safe it will be to travel around.”

Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa), said: “I understand that government ministers have to toe the official line but the message needs to be delivered positively.

“People want to look forward to a summer holiday and airlines need to plan their schedules for the summer. The aviation and tourism sectors need optimism from ministers, not doom and gloom.”

Sophie Griffiths, editor of Travel Trade Gazette, tweeted: “Why are you so hell-bent on not supporting the UK travel industry @grantshapps?

“It is not illegal to book a holiday and lots of people are doing so because after a horrific 12 months it gives them something to look forward to and enables them to support their local travel agent.”

On Monday, the prime minister appeared to indicate that the 17 May date for the resumption of international travel was a near certainty.

When asked if it and other roadmap dates might be moved earlier, Boris Johnson said: “I think people would really rather trade some urgency and some haste in favour of security and certainty about those dates.”

Labour and the SNP have warned against booking summer holidays.

Meanwhile the Department for Transport has announced a continuation to public subsidy of the route from London Stansted to City of Derry airport in Northern Ireland. Loganair will receive almost £1,600 for each flight between the two.

The aviation minister, Robert Courts, said: “The route will provide vital connectivity from Northern Ireland to the capital, supporting economies on both sides, and helping us deliver on our commitments to level up across the UK.”

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