Aito hits out at government’s use of Twitter for COVID updates

Aito hits out at government’s use of Twitter for COVID updates

Specialist travel association demands some curtesy in open letter to minister

Tour operator association Aito has called on the government to show the sector some “courtesy” and present the next steps on travel’s reopening formally rather than make announcements on Twitter.

Chris Rowles, chairman of Aito, The Specialist Travel Association, urged support for the sector and told ministers in an open letter: “Do both Parliament and the travel industry the courtesy of making a proper presentation of next steps.

“Tweeting is simply inappropriate when such important issues are concerned.”

Rowles warned: “Many families’ livelihoods are on the verge of being destroyed.

“Aito members are long-established SME businesses now at severe risk of being dumped on the scrap heap because the government has denied travel the right to trade for the second successive peak summer holiday season.”

The government completed the latest review of the traffic light system on Wednesday when it announced the removal of quarantine restrictions on vaccinated travellers entering the UK from the US and EU from Monday.

The news was first released in a series of tweets by transport secretary Grant Shapps – not the first time he has used Twitter to communicate a change in international travel restrictions.

The next system review is due in the autumn, although there is a review of the red-amber-green status of destinations due next week.

Aito highlighted three “key problems”:

“The mental strain of existing on zero income for 17 months”;

The payment of “a paltry £2,500 in government aid” to travel businesses, “up to £15,500 less than the hairdresser next door which is overrun by customers”: and

“Customers’ confidence to book has been destroyed [by] the weekly charade on Twitter by ministers”.

Rowles argued: “Added together, it makes for a pretty big kick in the teeth for the travel sector.

He said Aito backed Abta in calling for an additional review of the system in August.

The association is demanding Covid testing for travellers be made cheaper and “more proportionate to risk”, more key holiday destinations be added to the green list, and more deals on mutual recognition of vaccination certification.