Airline and travel industry stocks crashed to new losses yesterday after the UK government removed Portugal from its green list of holiday destinations that can be visited without the need to quarantine on return. The Iberian nation was the only major traditional holiday destination included when the original green list was drawn up last month.
It had originally been hoped that more new destinations would be added to the green list, with optimists until recently hoping some Greek and Spanish islands and possibly Malta would be included. In the end, fears around the risk of importing new Covid-19 variants before the vaccine programme has reached its latter stages saw the government break a pledge to avoid the kind of short-notice changes to rules that created chaos last summer.
The travel industry predictably hit out at the government with Business Travel Association chief executive Clive Wratten was scathing of a decision he says “effectively closed UK borders”.
“It is a devastating day for the travel industry as a whole. Removing Portugal from the green list will destroy any confidence in international travel, whether for work or leisure.”
Adrian Murdock, co-founder of hotel booking platform Hoo added his voice to the barrage of criticism from the industry. He described Portugal’s previous green list status and its reversal as:
“a ray of sunshine in an otherwise pretty dreary summer of foreign travel for UK holidaymakers. Now those who have booked but are yet to travel will be left in holiday limbo, unsure whether to cancel yet another holiday or hold out in the hope that Portugal may return to the green list in coming months.”
Airline stocks were hit hard with the EasyJet share price down 5%, Ryanair down 4.5%, Wizz Air 3.8%, and BA-owner International Consolidated Airlines suffering the biggest drop, down 5.4%. Jet2, which relies on package holidays for most of its passengers dropped by 4.7%.
Travel group Tui, Europe’s biggest package holidays company, lost 4.5% of its value yesterday and hotel operators PPHE Hotel Group and Intercontinental Hotels 3.4% and 2.3% respectively.
John Foster, director of policy at the CBI, said that if the UK government has decided it has to further limit international travel to avoid jeopardising the progress made by the vaccinations programme it will have to look at supporting the sector financially if it is to avoid long term damage that will see mass job losses and inhibit future growth.
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