Aviation experts have accused the UK government and trade bodies of a “pathetic” response to the Covid-19 crisis.
They slated politicians for a “fragmented” approach to travel and highlighted countries such as Greece and Singapore which have performed much better.
Their comments came during a TTG summit as part of London Travel Week, ahead of WTM Virtual (9-11 November).
John Grant, Director at JG Aviation Consultants, told TTG Editor Sophie Griffiths: “As industry, we have been appalling in our coordination and leadership.
“If industry had coherent voice, it would be better.”
He highlighted how the UK government’s Global Travel Taskforce has no travel industry representation, adding: “We have not grasped the magnitude of the value that aviation adds to an island economy.
“We have lost people with skills. We have set ourselves back 10 years.”
Accusing the government and industry associations of a “pathetic” attitude, he commented: “We need Michael O’Leary [Ryanair’s Chief Executive] to sort this out, to get tough and rough with the government that has shown no interest in aviation at all.”
Nick Dyne, Founder and Chief Executive of Caircraft, agreed: “Aviation is a key part of the economy.
“Post Brexit, we should be leading the world, not laggards – we are a laughing stock for our aviation policy; it is an utter disgrace.”
They both called for standardised, international agreements on travel protocols for issues such as testing and digital passports.
The debate included a discussion about Singapore, which has developed an SG Clean initiative to ensure nationwide Covid-19 compliance in businesses, as well as effective contact tracing and rigorous testing.
Carrie Kwik, Europe Executive Director at the Singapore Tourism Board, said: “It’s important for our international reputation.
“The testing regime is a cornerstone of how we present Singapore as safe destination for business and leisure travellers
“We have a tourism recovery taskforce that meets regularly with government agencies, the private sector and associations.”
The panel also highlighted how Greece had acted quickly to implement Covid-19 measures and communicate with trade partners about health protocols.