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While the European Union has banned U.S. travelers from entering the continent, the United Kingdom (U.K.) has begun to open to tourists — including those from the U.S. — but with new rules and regulations. As of June 8, visitors to the U.K. must self-isolate for 14 days after entering.
In an interview with TravelAge West, Gavin Landry, director and executive vice president of the Americas for VisitBritain, discusses its plan to help British tourism recover and what clients should expect before traveling there.
What efforts is VisitBritain currently employing to help the British tourism industry recover? Globally, tourism has been one of the hardest hit economic sectors of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism contributes $160 billion to the U.K. economy and employs 3.1 million people across the country.
Our response to the pandemic has been focused in five areas: advising the U.K. government; industry support and communication; recovery preparation; business continuity; and acting as the interface between the tourism industry and the government to ensure that the economic impacts on the tourism industry are understood and that policy matches the scale of the response needed.
We are supporting our travel industry partners to ensure they have access to VisitBritain’s recovery approach as it develops, and we are rolling out initiatives including our dedicated online advice hub. We are also preparing a series of webinars for the latest information on traveling to Britain, as well as hotel and attraction openings.
How did the new Industry Standard Quality Mark come about?VisitEngland, in partnership with the national tourist organizations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, launched a U.K.-wide industry standard to provide a “ring of confidence” for tourism as the sector works toward reopening.
The “We’re Good To Go” industry standard and supporting mark means businesses can demonstrate that they are adhering to government and public health guidance, including social distancing and cleanliness protocols. To obtain the mark, businesses must complete a self-assessment online showing that they have put the necessary processes in place. As of June 30, more than 11,000 businesses have registered as “We’re Good To Go.”
Alongside the industry standard, VisitEngland is launching the “Know Before You Go” campaign to alert travelers about what is safe to do in England and information about specific reopenings of destinations in England.
What are the main rules/restrictions travel advisors that should tell their clients about visiting the U.K. now? The U.K. government announced a 14-day quarantine for all inbound arrivals, which went into effect on June 8. From that date, all travelers arriving into the U.K. — including residents and visitors, with a few exemptions — via all means of transport have been required to inform border authorities where they will be staying and immediately self-isolate for 14 days. This measure is subject to review every three weeks to ensure it aligns with the latest scientific evidence and supports the government’s Roadmap to Recovery.
How has VisitBritain connected with travelers virtually during the pandemic?VisitBritain is keeping the destination front of mind globally for when the time comes for us to promote travel again. We are bringing Britain to U.S. audiences at home through our online channels and social media @lovegreatbritain, and sharing the best of Britain’s culture and virtual visitor attractions from film and television to music, heritage, literature, gardens and British food and drink.
What do you want travelers to know about returning to the U.K.?We want to reassure international travelers that our planning toward the future recovery continues. The U.S. is an incredibly important market for the U.K.; it is the largest and most valuable inbound market with millions of American visitors every year. We are working closely with the tourism industry and the U.K. government, and will continue to work with the international travel trade through this crucial period.