The luxury industry is calling on the Government to make further changes to the quarantine rules, so that it can return to growth and represent “Brand Britain” around the world.
Today it was announced that visitors from 60 countries, including major European markets like France, Germany, Spain and Italy along with Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan, will not be subject to two weeks’ quarantine upon entering England via boat, train or air.
However the so-called air bridges do not yet extend to higher risk countries such as the US and China along with Middle Eastern countries, which are major consumers of British luxury products. Over notable exclusions from the list, which has been calculated on a “traffic light” basis, include Sweden, Portugal and Russia (see below).
British luxury industry body welcomed the list but urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to step in and do more to encourage overseas visitors to UK cities and shops safely by exempting additional low-risk countries.
Helen Brocklebank, CEO of Walpole, said: “The British luxury sector can play a crucial part in rebuilding our economy and reinforcing Britain’s reputation as a creative and cultural leader across the globe. But government support for the sector is needed by working harder to encourage international shoppers back to our shores safely.”
Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, the luxury sector was growing at 9.6% annually, outpacing UK annual growth of 4%. The UK’s high-end creative and cultural industries – of which the luxury sector is part – performed strongly with the overall contribution rising 49%, from £32.2bn to £48bn between 2013 to 2017.
Lockdown in the UK caused on average a 60% decline in luxury sector revenue over the first six months of the year. Walpole believes that the sector will return to growth more rapidly if international tourism is encouraged. Furthermore, relaxation of the regime will bolster the tourist industry and the many inter-related sectors which contribute to the British creative economy.
Brocklebank added: “The international appeal of British luxury brands, hotels, restaurants and cultural experiences are highly influential in attracting visitors to the UK and contributing to our soft power. The economic contribution of overseas visitors goes way beyond the luxury sector itself and feeds a hugely important cultural and civic eco-system in the UK. If we don’t act quickly to make the country safe, desirable and accessible for international travellers, there will be a considerable impact on the speed of Britain’s recovery.
“British luxury sector’s appeal will dwindle if overseas customers are not given the opportunity to visit the UK for the full brand experience which is particularly important for customers from international markets. Shoppers must be encouraged to visit the UK.”
The full list of “air bridge” to England countries are as follows:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
- Czech Republic
- Faroe Islands
- French Polynesia
- Hong Kong
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- St Barthélemy
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Pierre and Miquelon
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Vatican City
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are yet to confirm their positions on the air bridges. The new rules come into effect on 10 July meaning visitors from the air bridge countries will no longer have to quarantine for 14 days. The Department of Transport has said more countries could be added to the list in the coming day.