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Dismay after UK fails to join EU-led scheme to revive tourism

Tourism and travel leaders have expressed disappointment and frustration after it emerged that the UK will not be taking part in an EU-led data-sharing project to reboot tourism as lockdowns lift.

The European commission has launched an app and website that provide travellers with real-time information about coronavirus rules and the status of infections in each European country. A commission spokesman told the Guardian the UK was not included as the government had not asked to be involved.

“No information was provided by the UK. The information was based on questionnaires and I don’t believe we have received information from the UK,” he said.

“We are open to the participation by [non-EU countries], provided they make the request and, secondly, they commit to providing updated and regular information to the website … The UK has not made such a request to participate.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “The UK is no longer part of the EU, and therefore we would not expect to be included in a map representing member states.

“The UK regularly shares information on our travel, border and health measures with key partners, including the European Commission, as part of our ongoing international cooperation during the Coronavirus crisis.”

The situation follows the government’s failure to take part in an EU scheme to source ventilators to treat Covid-19 patients, prompting critics to accuse Downing Street of putting “Brexit over breathing”.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the trade association UK Hospitality, said: “The government should be doing everything in its power to give businesses the best chance to get back on their feet and save as many jobs as possible. If the government has no intention of participating, it should reconsider.

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“Otherwise, this will be a missed opportunity to provide vital information to give tourists and businesses some much needed support.”

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, said: “It’s indicative that at the moment the UK is giving off the impression of being closed for business. Not providing information about how visitors can easily travel around the UK is worrying because it shows a country that wishes to be isolated.

“In the current coronavirus crisis, countries have to be as open and communicative as possible about what visitors can see and expect to do, so I would urge the UK to reconsider.”

The EU platform offers information on local border rules, available means of transport, travel restrictions, and health and safety measures such as physical distancing or wearing of face coverings.

Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market, said: “After weeks of confinement, EU internal borders are reopening. The Re-open EU website we are launching today will provide travellers with easy access to information to help them confidently make their travel plans and stay safe during their trip. It will also help small restaurant and hotel owners, as well as towns across Europe, draw inspiration from innovative solutions developed by others.”

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