French tourism bosses tell Macron to scrap his travel ban on UK holidaymakers as they accuse him of punishing the industry over worsening ties with Britain
Senior industry figures across the Channel said several holiday and ski resorts face economic ‘catastrophe’ this month unless the ban is lifted.
It comes as the country’s own public health agency yesterday admitted Omicron is now the most dominant variant in France. Omicron helped drive infection numbers to a record 232,000 new cases yesterday, piling more pressure on Mr Macron to back down.
Francois Badjily, head of the Alpe d’Huez tourist office, suggested France was playing politics with the pandemic. ‘We have the impression that our industry is being made to pay the price for the poor relations between both countries right now, whether it’s about Brexit or fishing or whatever,’ he said.
Mr Badjily said the current rules were incoherent because fully vaccinated tourists from other countries where the Omicron strain is already present are able to visit.
Vaccine passports are needed to enter French holiday hotspots such as ski resorts, as well as restaurants, bars and leisure facilities.
Alpe d’Huez draws a quarter of its visitors from the UK every year, and Mr Badjily added: ‘Why should a Briton who meets these criteria not be allowed to come, but the French and Belgians can?’
Christophe Lavaut, director of the Val d’Isere ski resort, also called on officials in Paris to axe the ‘compelling reason to travel’ directive that has stopped holidaymakers coming to France. ‘This restriction should simply be lifted as it is no longer necessary,’ he added.
At least 42 per cent of Val d’Isere’s customers are British, said Mr Lavaut, who urged his government to act ‘at the beginning of January’. Mr Macron’s travel measures have created chaos and sowed confusion throughout the entire Christmas break.
Earlier this week, border police even prevented Britons who were legal residents in the EU from returning to their homes – French officials at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone said they were not allowed to cross through France on health grounds.
But the EU’s top disease agency said in a report last month that Omicron travel restrictions only ‘help buy valuable time during the first days of detection’, adding that in countries already experiencing community transmission ‘such measures will probably not be relevant for much longer’.
The French government failed to reply to the Mail’s request for comment. Germany will remove Britain from its travel red list on Tuesday after its government admitted Omicron was already widely present in the country.