Industry Update
Press Release27 January 2021

WTTC Says UK Hotel Quarantines Would Cause Irreparable Damage to Industry

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World Travel & Tourism (WTTC)

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has said that introducing hotel quarantines in the UK would cause irreparable damage to an industry which contributes nearly £200 billion to the UK economy.


The UK has been one of the worst affected countries by the ongoing global COVID19 pandemic in the world. As of 06:22 GMT on 26 January 2021, the UK had reported 98,723 deaths and 3,680,101 cases. Only the U.S., Brazil, India, and Mexico have reported more deaths than the UK, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

The UK recently removed the travel corridors it had created and is currently discussing whether to enforce quarantine measures in an attempt to control the importation of new cases and variants of the virus. Many countries around the world have been able to control COVID19 numbers with greater success, due in part to much stricter quarantine measures for arriving travellers.

Not everyone agrees with strict quarantine measures. Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said, "The UK travel and tourism sector is in a fight for survival - it's that simple. With the sector in such a fragile state, the introduction of hotel quarantines by the UK government could force the complete collapse of travel and tourism. Travellers and holidaymakers would simply not book business or leisure trips knowing they would have to pay to isolate in a hotel, causing a drastic drop in revenues throughout the sector.

"From airlines to travel agents, travel management companies to holiday companies and beyond, the effect on UK travel businesses would be devastating, further delaying the economic recovery. Even the threat of such action is enough to cause consternation and serious alarm. WTTC believes the measures introduced by the government just last week - proof of a pre-departure COVID19 test, followed by short quarantine and another test if necessary, could stop the virus in its tracks, and still allow the freedom to travel safely."

"A number of countries, such as Iceland, have successfully implemented a testing regime on arrival, which has curbed the spread, whilst ensuring borders remain open. So, it's crucial these measures are given some time to work. Despite the current gloom, we truly believe there is room for optimism and a brighter future ahead. Business travel, visiting families and holidays can return with a combination of an internationally recognised testing regime, vaccines and mandatory mask wearing. These simple but highly effective measures, if implemented properly, could aid the revival of a sector which will be essential to powering the UK and global economic recovery."

Currently people arriving in the UK must provide proof of a negative COVID19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure. They also need to self-isolate for 10 days though this can be reduced to just 5 if they agree to pay for and pass another COVID19 test a few days after their arrival.

The UK Government is expected to make a decision today or Wednesday on whether to force travellers to quarantine in specific hotels, at their own cost, upon arrival in the UK. Details of the quarantine, the number of nights, choice of hotels, how it will work, costs involved, and whether this will be a blanket rule for everyone, or if there'll be numerous exemptions as the UK has done so often in the past, have yet to be confirmed.

Whilst a lot of countries have quarantines of 14 days, Hong Kong recently increased the quarantine from 14 to 21 days, and New Zealand recently reported the first community case of COVID19 in two months after a woman who travelled from London started showing mild symptoms 2 days after leaving 14-day mandatory quarantine where she had tested negative twice.

Thailand learned early on that if you are going to implement quarantine for arrivals, it has to be for everyone, regardless of country of origin, job or VIP status. The virus does not discriminate.

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About WTTC

WTTC is the body which represents the Travel & Tourism private sector globally. Members consist of CEOs of the world's Travel & Tourism companies, destinations, and industry organisations engaging with Travel & Tourism.

WTTC has a history of 25 years of research to quantify the economic impact of the sector in 185 countries. Travel & Tourism is a key driver for investment and economic growth globally. The sector contributes US$8.8 trillion or 10.4% of global GDP, and accounts for 319 million jobs or one in ten of all jobs on the planet.

For over 25 years, WTTC has been the voice of this industry globally. Members are the Chairs, Presidents and Chief Executives of the world's leading, private sector Travel & Tourism businesses, who bring specialist knowledge to guide government policy and decision-making and raise awareness of the importance of the sector.

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