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UK government announces global travel taskforce

The UK government has announced it will establish a global travel taskforce to help tackle the challenges posed by Covid-19 to international travel. 

The taskforce will consider how a testing regime for international arrivals could be implemented to boost safe travel to and from the UK. Photo: Pexels

The ongoing travel corridor process and related policy will not be within scope of the taskforce

The taskforce will consider how a testing regime for international arrivals could be implemented to boost safe travel to and from the UK.

It will also explore how to increase consumer confidence and how to facilitate business and tourist travel on a bilateral and global basis.

“The taskforce will report to the prime minister no later than early November”

It will be chaired by the secretary of State for Transport and the secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and will include collaboration between officials from departments across government.

“The taskforce will report to the prime minister no later than early November, setting out recommendations for how the UK can support the recovery of international travel, including how we can increase consumer confidence,” a statement on the government’s website said. 

A part of the work will be centred around the creation of a testing regime for international arrivals which could be implemented to boost safe travel to and from the UK. 

The government will also consider how it can facilitate business and tourist travel on a bilateral and global basis, through innovative testing models and other non-testing means.

Officials will explore steps that can be taken to increase consumer confidence and reduce the barriers to a safe and sustainable recovery of international travel.

The statement explained that the ongoing travel corridor process and related policy will not be within scope of the taskforce.

“This a welcome step forward from the government and signals a commitment to opening-up travel options for international students, while ensuring the safety of our student communities. We look forward to contributing to these discussions,” Anne Marie Graham chief executive of UKCISA told The PIE News. 

As part of the scheme, policy-makers will engage with stakeholders from outside government including those  in academia and policy institutes to provide insight and innovative solutions to the challenges the sector is facing.

“A core function of the taskforce will be to afford policy-makers a chance to discuss these issues further with those outside of government, as it considers robust and sustainable proposals that will facilitate safer international travel,” the statement continued. 

Representative from the transport industry, international partners, the tourism sector, local business leaders and the private testing sector will also be consulted.

The taskforce will be worked on by 12 government departments and organisations including the Department for Transport, the Department for Health and Social Care and NHS Test and Trace. It does not, however include the Department of Education.

Director of HEPI Nick Hillman said that the taskforce “looks like a wise move”. However he explained that the government needs to move swiftly if it is to restore confidence.

“Also, unless I am mis-reading it, it appears that the Department for Education are not represented. Given the number of students and staff who come to the UK in a normal year, it is imperative that the DfE has a place at the table,” he added.

Officials from the Scottish and Welsh governments and Northern Ireland Executive will be closely involved in the taskforce’s work.

“The taskforce will seek to achieve a four nations approach, while noting that health matters are devolved, so decision-making and implementation may differ across the nations,” the statement said. 

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