More frustrated businesses have pledged their support to The Telegraph’s Unlock Long Haul campaign, which aims to open up the world to British travellers after lockdown. 

Almost 80 companies have now given their backing to our call for the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to scrap its blanket advisory against all but essential travel and open up more quarantine-free “corridors” to safe long-haul destinations. 

“To give the industry a fighting chance, and for clients to have the holidays they want, there needs to be a major shift in the FCDO advice,” said Liz Hall, managing director of safari specialist Africa Pride. “From our own perspective, many African countries have much lower Covid-19 infection rates than the UK, or even those countries where the air bridges were granted this summer, and many also have World Travel & Tourism Council Stamps of Approval for their Covid-19 Protocols. The blanket advice for Africa needs to be reviewed urgently with it lifted for some countries even if quarantine is needed on the clients’ return to the UK. Our clients want to travel.”

As things stand, only a few dozen travel corridor countries can be visited by Britons without a requirement to self-isolate on their return. This list contains no nations in Africa or Latin America, despite all of them having far lower Covid case rates than the UK. Britons may, after lockdown, still travel to these destinations, but the FCDO’s blanket warning against all but essential travel – with limited exemptions – means tour operators cannot offer trips. 

Danny Callaghan, CEO of the Latin American Travel Association, which has more than 200 members, said: “There is an argument to say that if someone wants to go abroad, takes out adequate travel insurance (and there are excellent Covid-inclusive policies now available), and is prepared to quarantine in the UK on return, then why shouldn’t they?

“Following the launch of the Unlock Long Haul campaign, I was in touch with a good friend in the House of Commons who put the matter directly to Ministers within the FCDO. The answer that came back, with almost indecent haste, was a flat ‘no’.

“This does somewhat reinforce the view in the travel industry that senior people in Government just don’t ‘get’ the tourism sector, how it works, and the benefits.” 

The benefits are numerous. In the UK, the winter travel market is invaluable to holiday businesses and supports millions of jobs across destination countries – many of which are developing nations. Tour operators are struggling to survive and have already been forced to make tens of thousands of redundancies, while the collapse of tourism has contributed to rising levels of poverty, poaching, and environmental damage in Africa and beyond. 

“I understood the logic of [the FCDO advice] back in March but it is entirely inappropriate now,” said Ginny Russell, director of luxury safari firm Cedarberg Africa. “My company has been destroyed this year, not by Covid but by the blanket ban on travel.” She pointed out that the US State Department also implemented a blanket ban on travel in the spring, “but lifted this a couple of months ago”.

Much of the world, including most of Asia, still isn’t welcoming foreign tourists. But many winter-sun destinations are now open, even to Britons. Restrictions on entry vary. Some countries, such as Egypt and Chile, require evidence of a negative PCR test, but several countries, including Tanzania, Costa Rica, Brazil and Mexico, have no significant entry restrictions. However, despite all of these six countries (and there are many more) possessing a lower Covid infection rate than the UK, none are on the FCDO “safe” list. 



Costa Rica is welcoming tourists


Costa Rica is welcoming tourists


Credit: Getty

Danny Callaghan added: “As an industry we are working hard towards a safe restart, but the lifting of FCDO restrictions due to Covid doesn’t mean that there will be a sudden rush of Brits going abroad – many countries around the world are still closed to tourists, airlines are not in a position to just restart flying long-haul routes, and so on. In a way, that’s what makes the FCDO travel ban redundant, because tourism is only available in places that are safe and have strong government support, plus travel companies just won’t send people on holidays to higher-risk places.

“What we want as an industry is the reassurance that, as and when we are happy to send customers to countries that are happy to receive them, we won’t then have to battle the FCDO to reverse the blanket ban, and that’s why we really want to see that rolled back as soon as possible, to give us confidence in our future.”

Unlock Long Haul

The Telegraph’s Unlock Long Haul campaign is calling for the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) blanket advisory against all but essential travel to be scrapped, and for travel corridors to be granted for more countries beyond Europe.  

The UK winter is long. A second lockdown means it will feel even longer. Just as exercise and green space were championed as partial cures during the first lockdown, so a sun-blessed foreign holiday could be a boost to people’s mental wellbeing after another one. 

The UK government has applauded the idea of a happiness-oriented society. Its own health experts tell us that vitamin D is beneficial to the immune system. We will keep applying pressure on the Government to take urgent action, and our campaign will give travel businesses and tourist boards a platform to support the lifting of restrictions to safe winter sun destinations. 

If you represent a travel business or overseas tourist board and wish to lend your support to the campaign, please email [email protected]

The following travel bosses have already offered their support:

  1. Edward Paine, Managing Director, Last Frontiers

  2. Sarah Bradley, Managing Director, Journey Latin America 

  3. Oli Broom, Managing Director, The Slow Cyclist 

  4. Rupert Longsdon, CEO and Founder, Oxford Ski Company 

  5. George Morgan-Grenville, Founder & CEO, Red Savannah 

  6. James Jayasundera , Founder & Managing Director, Ampersand Travel 

  7. Robert Slater, Managing Director, Safari Consultants 

  8. Tim Milner, Director, Bamboo Travel 

  9. Sue Foster, Operation Director, Africa and Beyond Ltd 

  10. Simon Williams, Owner, Humboldt Travel 

  11. Henrietta Loyd, Founder + Director, cazenove+loyd 

  12. James Palmer-Tomkinson, Director, PT Ski Ltd 

  13. Fiona Charrington, Chief Executive, Martin Randall Travel 

  14. Alice Gully, Sales Director and co-owner, Aardvark Safaris 

  15. Matthew O’Sullivan, Director, Captivating Cuba Ltd 

  16. Abigail Shaw, Director, Bushbaby Travel 

  17. Chris McIntyre, Managing Director, Expert Africa 

  18. Justin Wateridge, Managing Director, Steppes Travel 

  19. Sara White, Director, Real World Travel & Conservation 

  20. Simon Cameron, Founder & CEO, Lightfoot Travel 

  21. Marc Leaderman, Product & Operations Director, Wild Frontiers 

  22. Will Jones, Managing Director, Journeys by Design 

  23. Jonny Bealby, CEO/Founder, Wild Frontiers 

  24. Neil Sealy, Head of Trade Sales, Exsus Travel 

  25. Mark Kempster, CEO, CT Travel Group Ltd 

  26. Farzana Dobbs, Managing Director, Travel Gallery 

  27. Peter Sommer, Director, Peter Sommer Travels 

  28. Sam Clark, Managing Director, Experience Travel Group 

  29. Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell, Owner/Director, cazenove+loyd 

  30. Sara Zimmerman, CEO, Travel Department 

  31. Laurenne Mansbridge, Director, Pioneer Expeditions Worldwide Ltd 

  32. Will Bolsover, Founder/CEO, Natural World Safaris Ltd 

  33. Henry Cookson, Founder/ CEO, Cookson Adventures Ltd 

  34. David Horwell, Director, Select Latin America 

  35. Liddy Pleasants, Managing Director, Stubborn Mule Travel 

  36. Nick Van Gruisen, Managing Director, The Ultimate Travel Company

  37. Guy Marks, Director, Tribes Travel Ltd 

  38. Frank Kenyon-Slaney, Director, World Odyssey 

  39. Daniel Benians, Managing Director, Distinctive World Travel 

  40. Marc Harris, Managing Director, Odyssey Travels 

  41. Jeremy Snelling, Co-founder, Revealed Travel 

  42. Brett Gerrett, General Manager, Isleworth Travel Management 

  43. Amrit Singh, Managing Director, Transindus Ltd 

  44. Mike McHugo, Managing Director/Founder, Discover Ltd 

  45. Steve Wilson, Founder, LiNGER 

  46. Claire Farley, Founder & Director, 2by2 Holidays 

  47. Noel Josephides, Chairman, Sunvil 

  48. Chris Wright, Managing Director, GIC The Villa Collection 

  49. Fiona Brijnath, Director, Far Frontiers Travel/Arcturus 

  50. Jim O’Brien, Director, Native Eye 

  51. Alex Edwards, Director, Natural High Safaris 

  52. David Warne, Product and Commercial Director, Wexas Travel 

  53. Gemma Antrobus, Chair, AITO Specialist Travel Agents 

  54. Anki Nordin, General Manager, Dragoman Overseas Travel 

  55. Andrew Hunt, Owner, Holiday Architects 

  56. David Holland, Director, Knighton Reeve 

  57. Carmel Hendry, Product Manager, Explore Worldwide 

  58. Martyn Summers, Executive Director, AITO, The Specialist Travel Association

  59. Ariane Mike de Vizcaino, Product Executive, Cox & Kings Travel 

  60. Ben Morison, Managing Director, Far & Wild Travel 

  61. Liz Pepperell-Skey, Director, New Zealand in Style 

  62. Damian Croft, Operations Manager, Esplora Travel 

  63. Virginia Russell, Managing Director, Cedarberg Africa 

  64. Rob Fielding, General Manager, Discover Adventure Ltd 

  65. Robert Ferguson, Managing Director, Real World Travel & Conservation Ltd

  66. Roland Hunter, Managing Director, The Mountain Company 

  67. Maggi Smit, Managing Director, Windows on the Wild

  68. Marc Harris, Director, Tanzania Odyssey

  69. Ginny Russell, Director, Cedarberg Africa

  70. Andy Tucker, General Manager, NatureTrek

  71. Luke Atkinson, Director, Rare Air Travel

  72. Lynsey Devon, Heaven Publicity Ltd (representing Jackson Hole) 

  73. Liz Hall, Managing Director, African Pride

  74. Karl Thompson, Managing Director, Unique Caribbean Holidays Ltd

  75. Chris Wrede, Director, Oasis Overland

  76. Jayne Alexander, Managing Director, The Dovetail Agency

  77. Danny Callaghan, CEO, Latin American Travel Association

  78. Nicola Gummer, Director, Naturally Travels