LONDON - Travel bosses are calling for a “significant overhaul” of Downing Street’s traffic light system and the end of mandatory Covid-19 testing as the industry faces the fallout of a collapse in summer holiday bookings.

According to a survey by Abta - The Travel Association of its 4,300 members, new bookings for summer foreign holidays this year were down by 83% on 2019.

And almost half of travel companies said they had seen no increase in 2021 bookings compared with last year, despite the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine programme. Meanwhile, 58% of bookings with departure dates in July or August had to be postponed or cancelled.

Airlines and travel companies have slammed Britain’s travel rules as “overly expensive and complicated”, and blame the regulations for a “second lost summer” of holiday trade, said Reuters.

The government is due to review the requirements for international travel by 1 October. Briefings suggest the system “will be dismantled, with an end to obligatory expensive and onerous PCR tests after arrival”, the Independent reported. However, Abta said the UK’s travel requirements have already had a “devastating impact” on the overseas travel industry.

The Abta survey revealed that 69% of travel companies with staff on furlough expect to make further redundancies once the scheme ends on 30 September. This would take the estimated job losses in the outbound travel sector to nearly 100,000, and total more than 226,000 across the whole supply chain.

It is expected that an announcement will be made on Thursday to relax the current travel restrictions.