The “natural wanderlust” of Britons will lead to a “miraculous change” in the desire to holiday abroad once it is safe to do so, the Prime Minister has predicted.
Boris Johnson made the optimistic statement during an evidence session with senior MPs, in which he also suggested it was likely that holidaymakers would need a so-called vaccine passport in order to embark on international travel.
During the Liaison Committee hearing, Mr Johnson was asked how the Government could help reverse foreign holidays being a “dirty word” since the coronavirus outbreak.
Responding to Commons Transport Committee chairman Huw Merriman, he said: “I think do not underestimate the natural wanderlust, spirit of inquiry, general dynamism of the British people that has served us for hundreds and hundreds of years.
“As soon as people feel it is safe, you will see a miraculous change in the mood and what happens. That is what this is all about.
“We’re getting there step by step, jab by jab – we’re not there yet but I’ll be saying more on April 5 and then on April 12, and we will do what we can.”
The Prime Minister confirmed that the details of a review being carried out by the international travel taskforce, which is being led by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, would be revealed in 12 days’ time.
But he acknowledged that things were “looking difficult on the continent” in terms of a rise in coronavirus cases, meaning hopes of booking getaways to Europe in May could be dashed.
Questioned about whether the taskforce would go so far as listing countries deemed safe for British jetsetters, Mr Johnson said: “I think, with great respect, you’re probably going to have to wait until April 5 to see the details.
“The hope is that we can get people moving again by May 17, by step three, in the way that I’ve set out in the roadmap.
“We’ll just have to see where we get to and where other countries get to and what the data is telling us.”
Mr Johnson told the committee on Wednesday there was “growing global consensus” that international travel would require some form of Covid certification or “vaccine passport”, whether in the form of vaccine proof or evidence of a negative test or immunity via past infection.
The Prime Minister did not let on whether he was hoping to leave the country for a break once restrictions were eased.
“I think whatever I do, I will be making sure to tell the British public what I think is safe and sensible, and I certainly won’t be doing anything other than that,” he said.
Mr Merriman suffered technical issues before trying to ask questions via videolink.
Seeing that the Tory MP was on the parliamentary estate, Mr Johnson proposed that he come and ask the questions in person instead.
“By the looks of it he is in Portcullis House – he’s just down the road, he could literally walk in here,” the Conservative Party leader told chairman Sir Bernard Jenkin.
“We could do this incredible thing called actual propinquity.
“Why don’t we, in a revolutionary concept, in a Covid-secure way, Huw could come and sit,” he added, while pointing to a chair in the room.
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