There is finally more clarity on what drives the UK’s decisions on travel regulations and assigning risk levels to countries.
Following lobbying efforts by the African Travel & Tourism Association (ATTA) – a member-driven trade association that promotes tourism to Africa from all corners of the world – the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSS) has updated its information on the risk assessment methodology which is used to inform the international Travel Traffic Light System.
“These welcome improvements include greater clarity and useful links,” said ATTA Director, Kate Kenward, who represents the association’s interests serving on the working group, Travel Industry Alliance (TIA).
The TIA is made up of nine industry bodies – representing travel, tourism and aviation sectors, both inbound and outbound, leisure and business – representing more than 7 000 tourism companies in Britain with the aim of strengthening the travel industry’s collective government lobbying.
Kenward pointed out that one of the grey areas about the current COVID-19 travel restrictions in the UK is around statistics –“the who, what, where and when they are collected and how they are used to influence key government decisions in relation to the travel traffic light system of red, amber and green”.
The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSS) were at the core of all decisions currently being made by the UK government with regard to travel restrictions, she explained.
Learning that, Mary Gregory, Deputy Director for Regulation, Office of Statistics Regulation had written to Johanna Hutchinson, Head of Data and Data Science, Joint Biosecurity Centre, seeking more clarity and transparency in relation to figures reported and how they influenced government's decisions.
“We appreciate that decisions are being made at pace and it may not always be possible to publish the data at the time a decision is announced, but in future we would like to see key information clearly signposted and published more promptly,” wrote Gregory.
TIA members wrote to Gregory welcoming her action. “We reiterated our own lobbying messages regarding government transparency when making decisions relating to travel restrictions,” said Kenward.
In turn, Gregory replied to the TIA letter recently advising that shortly after its receipt, the DHSS updated its information, making some welcome improvements including greater clarity and useful links.
“The above is just another example of the lobbying work ATTA is working on and our industry links are a valuable source of intelligence for us all,” said Kenward.