Latest changes to international travel rules prompt SPAA warning

Joanne Dooey, president of the SPAA

TRAVELLERS arriving in Scotland from abroad will need to take pre-departure Covid tests two days before they embark, to help stem the spread of the omicron variant. 

From 04:00 on Tuesday 7 December, everyone travelling to the UK will need to take a Covid test before their journey – as well as a test on or before day two after they arrive. The government is introducing the measure as a response to worries about the Omicron variant. It is also placing Nigeria on the UK’s travel red list, meaning all travellers returning to Scotland from Nigeria will be required to quarantine on their arrival in managed accommodation for 10 days.

Responding to the changing rules for international travel, Joanne Dooey, president of The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), called it “the early Christmas present none of us in the travel sector wanted or needed” and “a crushing blow for the travel sector in Scotland”.

She continued:

“The previous relaxation of the testing regime for travellers and the removal of a red list had led to the first proper period of trading for travel agents since early 2020. The reintroduction of pre departure testing and the fact that countries can be placed on the ‘red list’ with less than 48 hours’ notice will plunge agents back into a chaotic world of client repatriations where countries can be red listed at the drop of a hat. 

“The damage being wreaked on the Scottish travel sector – which is worth £1.466 to our economy – is incalculable.”

“Unlike the hospitality sector, which can start to generate revenue the minute restrictions are lifted, travel agents do not receive a penny of income until the time a customer travels. Our colleagues were just beginning to return a position to generate income in recent weeks following more than two years of zero income. It’s an atrocious position for travel agents to be in after such dire trading positions throughout the pandemic and we’re asking that the Scottish government recognises that our members need sector specific support and they need it urgently.”

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