Scottish agents welcome travel changes

by Steve Hartridge

Scottish travel agents have welcomed the decision by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this week to fall in line with England over arrivals from amber listed countries.

From July 19, Scotland will also allow fully vaccinated people returning from those countries to swerve quarantine, as long as they take a test after arrival in the UK.

Joanne Dooey, President of The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), the professional body for travel agents and the travel sector in Scotland, said she anticipates a rise in demand for overseas travel, but that expectations need to be tempered.

“We expect that enquiries will increase now for summer holidays, but operators and airlines will require time to rearrange packages so it’s unlikely that the travel agent tills will be ringing later today."

A recent SPAA survey showed that for every single summer flight which was grounded the Scottish economy lost £38k in retail spend on holiday items, not including taxi fares, duty free, food and drinks at airports on departure day.

"The whole Scottish economy needs the boost which international outbound travel brings," said Dooey. She added: “However, we still need a comprehensive plan for how the travel sector can return fully. Outbound tourists may be worth £1.466billion to Scotland, but inbound visitors are far more valuable to our whole country, especially to some of our remotest communities which depend on seasonal visitor spend.”

An ABTA spokesperson said: “It is welcome that self-isolation restrictions will ease on July 19 for fully vaccinated individuals returning to Scotland from amber list countries, but the First Minister must urgently review the ongoing advice against ‘non-essential’ international travel.

“It sends mixed signals to people who need a much-deserved break or long to see their friends and family abroad. While this advice remains, confidence to travel from Scotland will remain low and further financial support must be given to travel agents and tour operators, who continue to face the toughest trading conditions of all sectors.”

The SPAA, founded in 1921 is celebrating its centenary and is the world’s oldest organisation representing travel agents. It currently has 120 member companies, all their associated agencies across Scotland including many home workers, and 92 associate members across the travel and transport industry.

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