Sir Rocco Forte has slammed the UK’s proposed air bridge scheme as ‘perverse’, claiming that millions of livelihoods are at risk while borders remain all but closed to European tourists.
The British hotelier, who owns hotels throughout Europe, has stated that time is running out for the country’s suffering travel businesses and has urged the Government to ease restrictions that could drive away foreign tourists this summer.
“For the tourism industry in this country it’s the final nail in the coffin,” he told The Telegraph. “Unless people know they can go to a country they’re not going to book a holiday there – they’re going to go elsewhere. So all the major tourist destinations in this country will suffer as a result.
“If there are going to be air bridges we can’t wait three weeks, because by then we’re in July and August. They have to be announced now. It seems pretty perverse actually.”
Under current plans, all arrivals to the UK will be required to go into quarantine for 14 days, or else face a fine of up to £1,000 or prosecution.
The Government has opened talks to establish air bridges with Portugal, France, Spain and Greece, which would allow tourists to travel between these countries without the need to go into isolation.
Sir Rocco’s comments follow Italy’s decision to admit British and EU tourists without requiring them to go into quarantine, with hopes that tourists can help stave off the country’s worst recession since the Second World War.
The move that has drawn criticism from some experts who warn that fewer curbs on travel could lead to a second wave of infections, but the 75-year-old, who contracted and recovered from the coronavirus, believes the Italian government has done the right thing in weighing public health measures against economic strain of lockdown.
“If they can do it, why can’t the UK? Why should the UK be closing its borders at a time when Italy is opening its own?
“To close down an economy because of a certain section of the population who are perfectly capable of looking after themselves. There’s no sense in carrying on with this nonsense.”