An opposition party in the UK claims travel bans have irretrievably harmed the economy and they may well be correct. The tourism sector has been hard hit by COVID-19 and will be affected by the surging cost of fuel prices.
PERMANENT DAMAGE DONE
In a parliamentary debate on 15 March 2022, opposition MP, Ben Bradshaw, claimed the “draconian restrictions” on travel did “more harm than good” to the UK economy.
This comes after the UK government made the decision to lift all remaining COVID-19 travel bans come 4:00 on 18 March 2022. The decision follows a slew of countries deciding to lift the restrictions, as vaccination rates continue to rise. So far, Norway, Ireland, Hungary and Mauritius, amongst other countries, decided to move towards an “old normal” which allows for regular business and leisure travel between countries.
LIFE AFTER TRAVEL BANS
The decision has been welcomed by major industry players. Karen Dee, the CEO of the Airport Operators Association, had previously 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.”CEO of the Airport Operators Association Karen Dee
While industry rejoices, the opposition party continues to air concerns that the aftershocks of the pandemic will be felt for a long time, as Bradshaw’s address to the house shows. The fears aren’t unfounded, given the UK’s GDP declined by nearly 10% during the pandemic. The tourism sector, which had accounted for a significant portion of the country’s economy, was particularly hard-hit.
The UK is the world’s first major economy to fully lift travel restrictions. However, with jet fuel prices rising as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, we wonder if Bradshaw is right and that this might be too little too late. Can the world face an economic recovery, or is a continued recession on the cards? And what will that mean for travel – both in terms of the sector and in terms of regular tourists’ dreams? We suppose we will have to wait and see.
In the meanwhile, England is open for business and our own South Africa is trying to attract tourists too!
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