The UK was a world leader in travel. No longer

That, according to the UK Travel Association, which on Tuesday that more than two-thirds of its members are planning further redundancies when state aid for wages ends later this month. London’s Heathrow Airport revealed on Monday that it is now Europe’s tenth busiest airport and slips from the top spot in 2019.

“The government needs to wake up to the damage its policies are doing to the UK travel industry and the impact they will have on the wider economic recovery,” Travel Association CEO Mark Tanzer said in a statement. “A reduced holiday industry is a reduced aviation industry with fewer routes and fewer flights. That is not the way to achieve a global UK,” he added.

Despite one of the most successful vaccine expansions in the world, the British government has met a number of travel requirements for visitors and Britons wishing to leave the country.

Travelers must take costly coronavirus tests before departure and upon return to England, even if they are fully vaccinated and travel from countries that the government considers to have a low risk of coronavirus. Everyone who comes from a high-risk country must be quarantined for 10 days in a hotel at their own expense.

By comparison, EU citizens who are double-vaccinated have been able to travel within Europe without having to test for months, according to the Travel Association. “The government’s overly cautious travel requirements have led Britain to lag behind its European competitors,” it added.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Heathrow was Europe’s busiest airport and welcomed a record 80.9 million passengers in 2019.

It is now behind major rivals including Amsterdam’s Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Frankfurt International, as well as smaller airports in Turkey and Russia.

The number of passengers decreased by 71% in August compared to the same month in 2019 and cargo volumes were 14% weaker. Some EU competitors reached cargo volumes before the pandemic at the end of 2020, according to Heathrow Airport.

Data from Airports Council International Europe show that Heathrow welcomed less than 3.9 million passengers in the first half of this year, a 90% decrease compared to 2019.

These figures do not bode well for the UK’s ability to restore its status as the tenth most popular destination in the world for international tourist arrivals in 2019. It was also the world’s fourth largest expenditure on tourism that year, after Germany, the US and China alone, and indicates a large number of outgoing travelers, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Heathrow and the Travel Association have called on the UK government to scrap coronavirus tests for fully vaccinated travelers when it reviews international travel requirements on 1 October.

They also want the current “traffic light” system to be reviewed and simplified. The system classifies countries as either red, yellow or green for coronavirus with different rules for each category.

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“The current traffic light system is an outlier and delays the government’s global UK ambitions, giving competitors a competitive advantage while the UK loses market share,” Heathrow Airport said in a statement.

Budget bearer EasyJet (ESYJY) said in July that it had moved some planes from the UK to Europe, where demand was stronger.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said that the government’s “highest priority” is to protect public health and that it regularly reviews the traffic light system.

“We recognize the challenging times facing the travel sector. Therefore, we have committed around £ 7 billion ($ 9.7 billion) in support in September 2021 and will continue to work with industry to help them navigate this difficult period.” , the spokesman added.

In July, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimated that the lack of incoming international visitors to the UK cost the economy £ 639 million ($ 889 million) a day.

“2021 does not risk being better than last [year] for the travel and tourism sector [in the United Kingdom], despite the incredibly successful vaccine development, “said WTTC President Julia Simpson in a statement earlier this month.

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