TRAVEL agents in Worcester have criticised the government’s decision to remove Spain from its quarantine-safe list.

The announcement means tourists coming back from the country will have to go into quarantine for two weeks when they arrive back in Britain.

Paul Knapper, manager of Spires Travel in Deansway, said the government “doesn’t seem to understand” how the travel industry works.

“Since the FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) advice was updated it has had to have been reworded three times, and is very confusing and has mixed messages," he said. "They need to make sure that the FCO advice for non essential travel matches with the quarantine period on return from the UK.

“You can’t have them saying on one hand you can travel to the Balearics and Canaries but need to quarantine on return – this is not really an option for the majority of travellers.”

Mr Knapper added: “I think it is the wrong decision to include the Balearics and Canaries as they have very few cases currently and many less than the UK, and this advice needs to change until they can back their decisions up with actual figures.These decisions are going to kill the travel industry and the Balearics is one of the safest places in Europe currently, but our government is advising to not travel there.”

The government decision to exclude Spain from the list means anyone returning from Spain and the islands will need to quarantine for 14 days, although there are hopes that may be reduced to 10 days. It has also been pointed out that some of the areas in Spain and its islands have much lower risk levels than the UK.

Jennifer Lynch, general manager of Arrange MY Escape in Mealcheapen Street, said she and her staff were shocked at how short notice the government’s advice had come.

She said: “It has come at the worst time, during the peak travel period for Spanish and UK tourism. This has having a negative affect on customer confidence, not just travelling to Spain but anywhere in Europe or on the ‘Government quarantine exempt list’.”

Despite this, she said colleagues had noticed a surge in tourists booking with travel agents instead of online:

“Many have come to us for advice after booking online and really struggling to get hold anyone, to discuss refunds and amendments and just general help," she said. "We are positive that we will see the demand for travel return, and we are already seeing an increase in sales for 2021.”