The hospitality industry has welcomed agreement in discussions between the UK and European Union on a future trading relationship.
Following the departure of the UK from the EU earlier this year, relations have been in a transition period.
This comes to an end on December 31st, with an agreement now in place for the next phase.
The full text of the deal, which has been greeted with relief by the travel sector, can be seen here.
Commenting on the news, Gloria Guevara, WTTC chief executive, said: “The whole tourism sector will be breathing a sigh of relief that the EU and UK government have been able to agree a deal at the eleventh hour.
“It is good news for a sector which has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic and which feared the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.
“Thankfully, this worrying outcome has been avoided and now the sector can look ahead to 2021 with more confidence.
“But British holidaymakers could face higher health costs and added red tape.
“The devil will be in the detail of the deal – and only time will tell what the true consequences are for travellers.”
She added: “WTTC stands ready to work closely with governments and other key organisations in tourism to help implement testing and WTTC Safe Travels protocols to enable the recovery of the sector.”
The sentiments were echoed by ABTA, which represents travel agents across the UK.
An ABTA spokesperson said: “It is vital that we avoid additional uncertainty for the travel industry at a time when businesses are struggling with the impact of Covid-19.
“While there will still be changes, and businesses need to prepare for those, securing a deal will ensure that vital transport links are maintained, and provide at least some basis for the continued entry of tourism workers from the UK into the EU.
“ABTA will now be looking closely at the details to understand fully what this means for travel businesses and travellers.
“We will provide our Members with updated guidance and information in the coming days.”
ABTA said comprehensive advice for customers travelling to the European Union from January 1st could be found here.
The trade body pointed out the need for customers to take out travel insurance, rather than relying on an EHIC card, and to ensure passports have at least six months of validity.
Consumer organisation Which? said it was also standing by to help where needed.
Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?, said: “The news of a deal means that consumers can breathe a sigh of relief, as they will avoid the cost of a no-deal
Brexit to their pockets and their consumer rights.
“Crucially, the announcement that people will continue to benefit from zero tariffs on goods from the EU is positive for consumers, as many will be keeping a close eye on their finances heading into the new year.
“Even with a deal, people may still see fundamental changes compared to what they have been used to.
“We will be closely scrutinising the details of the deal when it is published to establish the true implications for consumers and continuing to provide advice to help people navigate this new landscape.”
Image: Pippa Fowles/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images