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Published on Monday, January 18, 2021

Grant Shapps' 'flippant' remark angers industry

Travel industry bosses have rounded on a 'flippant' remark made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps which was reported by a Saturday tabloid newspaper.

Shapps was asked by the BBC on 16 January whether it was wise for the over-50s to book their summer holidays.

His reply was picked up by the Daily Star on its front page, interpreting his answer as him effectively saying 'don't ask me, I haven't got a clue' alongside an image of Shapps in a Hawaiian shirt, sipping a cocktail next to a beach.

Meanwhile Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, speaking on LBC radio this morning, said it was 'too early' for people to book a summer holiday now and they shouldn't be travelling domestically and 'certainly not internationally'.

Using Twitter to respond to Shapps' comments, Miles Morgan, owner of Miles Morgan Travel said: "Thank you @DavidTCDavies for writing to @grantshapps on behalf of both myself and the whole travel industry. Seeing Mr Shapps' flippant comment yesterday, we really do require some solid answers and plan. Global Travel Taskforce….when???"

Morgan had uploaded a letter from David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, sent on 15 January asking Shapps to respond to an email from Morgan asking for an update on the Global Travel Taskforce, launched in November and aimed at 'opening up international travel and boosting businesses'.

A report was published on 24 November, but nothing has been updated since. In his letter, Davies also reiterated calls for a 'roadmap to recovery' for the travel industry.

Jo Rzymowska, vice president and managing director UK & Ireland at Celebrity Cruises responded: "His arrogance and flippancy is disgraceful. A constant smirk on his face and it is quite clear he has no concern or interest in helping the travel industry."

Speaking on LBC radio this morning, Raab said the removal of the travel corridors today was a temporary measure, but warned: "Until we are confident we can reinsert those travel corridors and lift the quarantine measures safely and responsibly, I'm afraid they will stay in place. "

When asked whether he would encourage people to book a summer holiday despite the current restrictions in place, he added: "No I think at the moment it's too early. You have to follow the guidance that we are putting out. The rules now are very clear, people shouldn't be travelling both domestically or certainly not internationally, unless there are very exceptional reasons.

"I'm afraid until we are in position to give reassurance, it's very difficult to plan."

Asked why these controls weren't brought in at the start of the pandemic in March, Raab said: "Because really they're targeted at protecting the NHS through the latter end of the winter months, and the new variants are the game changer, because what we don't want to see is either more lethal versions of the virus coming into the UK."

Pressed again as to why they weren't introduced at the start, Raab added: "Because the advice which we followed all along was that it wasn't an effective measure to take at the point when we had the virus swirling around the UK."

Speaking on ITV's Lorraine show this morning, Dr Hilary Jones said people thinking about booking a summer holiday were 'barking up the wrong tree' and should't really think about going away until September.

"Don't set your hopes too high. Be realistic, set your hopes positively for the future, probably autumn, September."

Dr Jones He said it wasn't because the situation here wouldn't be better, but the destinations people were travelling to may be lagging behind in terms of vaccinations.


By Louise Longman, Contributing Editor (UK)

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  • shapps

    is only a public servant after all. 24 hours is a VERY long time in politics. Economic ruin will cause things to change.

    By Michael Anderson, Tuesday, January 19, 2021

  • i'm going skiing in April in USA

    not from UK

    By Michael Anderson, Monday, January 18, 2021

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