Visit Britain is cheering the UK’s soon-to-reopen status

A travel agent, VisitBritain & British High Commission speak to UK list

TORONTO — It’s not like Canadians are travelling much anyway, due to the advisory against non-essential travel, the challenges getting travel insurance and the mandatory 14-day quarantine for returning travellers.

But it would have been nice to see Canada on the UK’s green-light list for countries whose visitors can forgo the 14-day quarantine in destination.

The list, announced July 3, includes 59 countries so far. The UK government says countries may be added to the list over the coming days following further discussions between the UK and international partners. Canada did make the EU’s list.

Contacted by Travelweek, Tom Walsh, Head of Communications, British High Commission Ottawa, said who’s allowed in without the 14-day quarantine will be reviewed at least every 28 days.

“Although Canada will not be included in the first list of country-based exemptions to the current requirement, we do recognize how important travel is between our two countries,” says Walsh.

He adds: “The UK government wants to be able to make further exemptions to make travel easier and more attractive, but only when we are sure that we can do so safely and responsibly. The changes will be subject to a rolling review at least every 28 days to ensure they are in line with the latest scientific evidence and remain effective and necessary.”

“MY CLIENTS ARE CAUTIOUS NORMALLY AND EVEN MORE SO NOW”

Sandra McLeod with RedDoorTravel in LaSalle, ON says the majority of her clients are 50+, 60+ and beyond, “so more cautious normally and even more so now.” Even clients who are younger are concerned about their parents and/or grandparents, if they were to travel. “My clients are not ready to go anywhere,” she says when asked about the UK quarantine list.

“I have clients that were scheduled to go to the UK in June for a wedding.  The wedding was postponed due to COVID. I have seen a lot of this,” says McLeod.

She tells Travelweek: “The UK is generally considered safer than some parts of the world. I did see that the UK did not have Canada on the list. I was surprised since our numbers are less than the UK. It is pretty much academic since Canada has the Avoid all Non-Essential Travel ban on. Although travel insurance can be purchased there may be exclusions related to travel bans, which creates another layer of concern.”

McLeod says that even her clients whose trips were cancelled for the spring and were hoping to go in the fall are now waiting until world events become more certain, at least where COVID is concerned.

“I have been through many world crisis in my working years, but nothing like this,” she says. “I do have faith and confidence we will get through this and people will travel again. There is already a pent-up demand.”

“OUR PLANNING TOWARDS FUTURE RECOVERY CONTINUES”

Gavin Landry, VisitBritain Executive Vice President The Americas, says that while any decisions about travel restrictions are in the hands of the UK Government, “VisitBritain wants to reassure Canadians that our planning towards the future recovery continues.”

In the meantime Landry notes that VisitBritain is bringing Britain to its audiences in Canada through its online channels including @lovegreatbritain and www.VisitBritain.com, sharing the best of Britain’s culture and virtual visitor attractions from film and TV to music, heritage, literature, gardens and British food and drink.

“Our priority is to ensure that tourism rebounds to once again become one of the most successful sectors of the UK economy,” he says.

VisitBritain also plans to continue promoting Britain hand-in-hand with its travel agent partners.

“We will also be working with the international travel trade in Canada so that they are ready to sell Britain again as restrictions are lifted,” says Landry. “We look forward to welcoming you back to our shores as soon as we can.”