Travel industry representatives have welcomed the UK Government’s announcement it will end all travel restrictions later this week.
Passenger Locator Forms and testing for all arrivals will end at 4am on Friday 18 March.
Then, from the end of the month, all hotel quarantine will end, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced.
Virgin Atlantic said the news ‘is the final important step towards frictionless air travel, helping to further restore consumer confidence as we welcome more customers back to the skies this spring and summer’.
The airline added: “With these barriers to travel removed, Britain is open for business and passengers can reconnect with loved ones and business colleagues once again.”
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays CEO Steve Heapy said: “Two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s announcement marks international travel finally returning to normal.
“The removal of needless forms and ineffective testing regimes means that customers can at long last enjoy hassle-free travel, just like they did before the pandemic.
“With Easter just around the corner and summer fast approaching, this announcement comes at the perfect time.
“Since restrictions started to be eased at the beginning of the year, we have experienced strong, sustained demand and the complete removal of forms and requirements will boost that demand even further.”
Advantage Travel Partnership, ABTA and the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association all encouraged the public to book through an agent who can help clients understand any restrictions in their destination country.
Advantage Chief Executive Julia Lo Bue-Said tweeted: “Travellers can once again travel more freely and easily with less hassle. Destination rules will continue, book through a human travel agent for peace of mind.”
ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer described the removal of all remaining COVID travel measures as ‘a watershed moment for the travel industry’.
He added: “With no more tests or forms to fill in on return to the UK, travel is finally starting to return to normal and many more people will have the confidence to go ahead and book a long-awaited holiday.
“With destinations around the world also continuing to relax their entry restrictions, international travel is becoming easier as we approach the Easter holidays and look ahead to the summer.”
Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association President Mike Tibbert commented: “Our members can now look forward to building customer confidence without the restrictions hanging over travellers.
“Our sector has been damaged more than most by the pandemic, with support for Scottish agents coming very late in the day. We can now look forward to getting holidaymakers back in the sky and business travellers back in business globally.”
American Express Global Business Travel Chief Commercial Officer Drew Crawley spoke for the business travel community by saying: “This long-overdue decision to remove these costly restrictions is good news for the sector and the economy. We can now look forward to an accelerated return of business travel and a more frictionless end-to-end experience for travellers.
“If we are to be a successful international trading nation in this post-Brexit, post-pandemic era, the government must now be resolutely focused on supporting the travel and aviation sectors.”
Airlines UK Chief Executive Tim Alderslade said: “Today’s announcement sends a clear message to the world – the UK travel sector is back.
“With travellers returning to the UK no longer burdened by unnecessary forms and testing requirements, we can now look forward to the return to pre-COVID normality throughout the travel experience.
“We’re grateful for the timing of the announcement as we prepare to welcome back passengers this Easter and summer, for which we know there is huge pent-up demand, and for the UK’s leadership in being the first major aviation market to remove all remaining restrictions.
“The time to return to the skies – to enjoy all that makes aviation and international travel great, for families and businesses – is now.”
Airport Operators Association Chief Executive Karen Dee said: “A return to restriction-free travel is good news for passengers and should allow for aviation to take significant steps towards recovery.
“People should feel encouraged to book their long-awaited holidays, trips to see relatives and friends abroad they haven’t seen for a long time and travel to rekindle business ties with other countries.”