James Foice, CEO of trade body ASAP, has joined those from across the travel and hospitality industry calling for the government to think again about quarantine restrictions on incoming visitors.

From today, almost everyone arriving in the UK, including British citizens returning from overseas, will need to self-isolate for 14 days. There will be spot-checks on the quarantine address they give, with fines of up to £1,000 for non-compliance.

Foice says: “The Members I represent in the serviced apartment sector offer self-contained, hygiene-assured accommodation with guests’ own laundry facilities and kitchens, so they actually make ideal places to stay for those quarantining.

“However, the whole travel industry has taken an unprecedented pounding during the pandemic, from airlines to travel services, and hotels to B&Bs. 

“And while we obviously understand the need for caution to keep the virus under control, putting up barriers against people visiting can only hit business travel and tourism harder still.”

The UK hospitality industry is currently responsible for around one-tenth of jobs, and 10% of GDP, so losing it would make a huge hole in the country’s finances. Existing restrictions continue to keep pubs and restaurants closed, making the country less appealing to visitors, while the quarantine measures will bring another challenge for both leisure and business travel.

Foice continues: “This is not only about our part of the wider sector. We are poised to recover better than some, post-pandemic, as serviced apartments help guests minimise contact with others in communal areas. Our own Members’ accreditation comes with Covid-ready hygiene protocols, and innovations such as keyless entry and rooms left vacant between stays ensures there’s no cross-contamination between guests.

“But that pre-supposes there are guests in the first place!

“The fear across the industry is that a lengthened shut-down and quarantine for visitors will lead to smaller operators going out of business, and mass unemployment for people who have invested in training and development in useful careers.

“We are asking government to think again. Britain should be open and welcoming to visitors of all sorts. Once we re-open we will be competing with countries much bigger than ourselves for both tourists and business travellers. It’s not too late to change the quarantine restrictions, and open the country to visitors, with sensible hygiene measures in place.”