EVERY day brings more devastating headlines for this country’s once-great travel industry:

-Coronavirus to cost UK tourism £37billion this year!

-RyanAir to cut 3,250 jobs and slash pay by 20 per cent!

-British Airways workers told to accept pay cuts of up to 60 per cent or face the sack!

It’s not an exaggeration to say the entire tourism sector – including our iconic airlines – is on life support.

To put it into perspective, on one day last week just 23 passengers used Gatwick Airport, which was handling 45,000 people a day before the pandemic.

What happens over the next few weeks will decide whether these companies are ever able to operate again and if millions of employees lose their jobs.

Yet the government continues to push forward with its plan to impose a 14-day quarantine on all travellers re-entering Britain – a move that will help sign the death warrant of many of these businesses.

The quarantine could cost the industry £15 billion this summer, with the usual 40 million visitors to our country slashed by two thirds.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis is right when he says the quarantine sends a message to the world “that while everyone else is coming out of lockdown, we are locking down further”.

The most devastating thing about this whole scenario is that it’s actually a non-quarantine.

Travellers are going to be allowed to catch public transport from the airport to where they’re staying and even leave the house to shop. So in the very few occasions where any arrivals do have Covid-19, they’ll be spreading it around anyway.

The only countries where these awful, backward quarantines have made a blind bit of difference is when they’re draconian.

In my homeland of New Zealand, for example, you’re locked up by the government in a state-run hotel for the full two weeks, with food delivered to your room each day. There is one outdoor walk allowed a day, where you are followed by state workers. What a ghastly way to treat people who just need to get home or want to visit your country.

If only the government had listened to me. In this column two weeks ago I warned that the introduction of quarantine here would only please Greta Thunberg and the extremist anarchists of the Extinction Rebellion, who think going on holiday is a crime against humanity.

Instead, I proposed the government should listen to the industry, which was swiftly developing safety innovations like heat monitoring tests to make travel practical and safe.

With our exploding Covid testing capacity, it makes sense for them to be deployed to airports as well.

There are signs that common sense might prevail.

The Daily Telegraph reports today that several cabinet ministers have privately expressed opposition.

In addition, Boris Johnson is said to be personally in favour of air bridges, which would exclude so-called safer countries like Greece and France from the quarantine.

But I fear that even if the quarantine is only in place for three weeks so much of the damage may be irreversible.

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