The inclusion of Mexico on the U.K.’s travel red list means losses in the millions of dollars for the tourism industry, according to trade body the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
A third wave of Covid-19 infections in Mexico has seen around 20,000 new cases a day, which triggered the U.K. to change the country’s status from amber to red on its travel list. Many tourists from the U.K. rushed home before 4:00 a.m. Sunday to avoid a 10-day hotel quarantine which will cost arrivals about US $2,425. People without legal residence are banned from entering the U.K. from Mexico.
The WTTC estimates that the decision will affect about 6,000 U.K. tourists. Data from the Tourism Ministry (Sectur) shows the United Kingdom is the main source of tourists from Europe and the fourth biggest globally. Mexico was becoming a more popular destination for U.K. tourism, which grew by 16.8% from 2015-2018, from 505,954 to 590,954 visitors.
The announcement deals a fresh blow to the industry, which suffered badly due to travel restrictions in the pandemic. Data from federal statistics institute Inegi shows that the value of the industry dropped 55.1% in 2020 compared to 2019. However, it was still a significant foreign currency earner: according to the WTTC’s annual economic impact report it contributed 8.5% to Mexico’s GDP in 2020 and generated 5.8 million jobs.
The vice president of the WTTC, Virginia Messina, estimated the economic impact of the decision. “The longer [restrictions] are extended the greater the impact. We are talking about many millions of dollars for the Mexican economy,” she said.
She added that the restrictions could cost $2 million per day for the tourism industry, which would mean losses of $364 million over six months. Other European countries could also take action to restrict arrivals from Mexico, she said.
In the U.K. 70% of the population has received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and officials hope to hit 100% in October. That has heightened fears of introducing new Covid-19 variants to the population, against which vaccines may not be effective. Meanwhile, in Mexico almost 40% of people have received a first dose, according to Health Ministry data released on August 7.
Sixty countries are on the U.K.’s red list including much of Latin America. The countries include Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela and Panama.
The U.K. government updates its list of countries every three weeks. Travelers can view updates and requirements on the official government website.