From 4 am, Monday, August 2, Britain will unlock itself for the footloose double-jabbed from the United States, the European Union (EU), the European Free Trade Association countries and Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City. And international cruises will begin to ply again from British ports, after 16 months of inactivity.
It will mean business for the travel and tourism industry but not business as usual — the US, after all, remains closed to non-citizens who have been in the UK or Schengen area in the previous fortnight.
And even such American business as comes to Britain will have to fight off competition from Europe. The EU has a headstart because it’s been six weeks since it allowed quarantine-free travel from the US.
According to Tom Jenkins, chief executive of ETOA, the European tourism association, “The UK has left it very late to stop scoring own goals. Eighty per cent of all visits from the US come in the period January-September, of which the peak period is September, during the time around Labor Day”.
Mr Jenkins suggested that some last-minute bookings may come into London “but the influx of American visitors that is happening in the cities and regions of the EU is not going to occur in the UK in 2021”.
The takeaway is dispiriting for all that Britain’s great re-opening is meant to recharge the economy — and spirits.