BUSINESS leaders in Scotland have declared the Scottish Government’s decision to divert from UK travel policy with regard to Covid testing has caused “serious alarm” across industry.

On Friday the UK Government scrapped the traffic light system for international travel and simplified measures for people arriving from the rest of the world.

It means that from October 4 there will no longer be a need for passengers arriving in England to have taken a PCR test in advance of departure - if they have been double vaccinated. Such passengers will no longer require to take a day eight Covid test.

Under the new policy, those arriving in England from later this month will also no longer have to take a day two PCR test, and will instead be able to use much cheaper lateral flow tests.

However, while the Scottish Government has also scrapped the traffic light system, it has retained the PCR requirement for arrivals to Scotland for now.

A group of business organisations, led by the Scottish Tourism Alliance, has now written to minister and officials to seek an urgent meeting on the matter, which they say has brought a renewed crisis to the tourism sector and supply chain.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the STA, said: “The Scottish Government’s latest decision on international travel restrictions, specifically around Day 2 testing has caused serious alarm across the travel, tourism and hospitality sector in Scotland and the broader business community.

“I have received a steady stream of messages over the course of the weekend from businesses presenting direct and immediate evidence of the impact of the Scottish Government’s decision on international travel restrictions; as an example, one inbound operator has been told to direct all future bookings to airports south of the border.

“It is the grave concern of many that international bookings, revenue and visitors are being lost not just now but should this policy remain, it could destroy any hopes of recovery in 2022.  Unless there is a swift change, the Scottish Government’s position on international travel will effectively write off international tourism to Scotland for another year to the detriment of our businesses, communities, supply chain and wider economy.”

The Scottish Government said on Friday that it has decided not to follow the UK Government on pre-departure tests and the use of lateral flow tests on day two after arrival for passengers coming to England "due to significant concerns at the impact on public health".

It said testing international travellers, before and after travel, is an "important part of our border health surveillance to minimise the risk of importing variants of concern."

However, it will implement changes to the traffic light system, which will see green and amber classifications merge, and the red list retained for countries with high Covid case rates and variants of concern.