Reopening travel cannot wait for vaccines

LONDON, 17 December 2020: The world cannot wait for the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and major international industry bodies.

WTTC, the Airports Council International (ACI), World Economic Forum (WEF) and International Chamber of Commerce are calling for the immediate restoration of international travel using proven processes and without waiting for or requiring vaccinations

WTTC recognises that public health is paramount and welcomes the recent rollout of the game-changing vaccines, which in the long-term will play a major role in combating coronavirus and restoring international travel.

However, vaccines must not be a requirement to travel as this will further delay the revival of the already ailing travel and tourism sector, which needs to restart now to save itself, millions of jobs in the sector. Getting people back to work will also provide enormous health benefits to those around the world, whose livelihoods have been affected by the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.

Recent research from WTTC shows a staggering 174 million global travel and tourism jobs are now threatened.

The safe opening of existing travel corridors such as London Heathrow – Dubai, with appropriate testing and hygiene protocols, demonstrates that international travel can already take place at minimal and acceptable risk.

Together with ACI, WEF, and ICC, WTTC has identified four key measures which need to be implemented to restore international travel safely,

Four essential measures

1. Globally recognised testing regime on departure – It is essential that quick and cost-effective testing to international standards are introduced on departure for all passengers to minimise the risk of transmission

2. Common health and hygiene protocols – Heightened health and hygiene protocols, such as the WTTC Safe Travels Protocols, can ensure the risk of transmission during travelling is actually lower than in the community at large

3. Risk management regime – All governments should adopt a clear policy of risk management in accordance with the recent recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART), and the guidelines from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (EASA/ECDC). This is in stark contrast to the present risk avoidance approach, reflected in 14-day quarantines, which is crushing both business and leisure travel

4. Travel passes – Vaccines can work alongside digital travel passes, such as CommonPass, AOK Pass and IATA Travel Pass to ensure the common certification of test results to revive travel, without the need for restrictive and unnecessary travel

WTTC and the industry bodies warn against the introduction of so-called ‘health passports’ – as opposed to internationally-recognised travel passes currently being considered – which would only further delay the recovery.

WTTC president and CEO, Gloria Guevara said: “The vaccines currently being rolled out are truly game-changers, and hopefully just the first of many which could transform the world and mark the beginning of our return to a more normal way of life and see the return of safe and confident international travel.

“Safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines will be critical to combatting (the pandemic) and restoring confidence for people to interact with one another. However, it will take considerable time to vaccinate the world and for the vaccines to have a significant effect on the global

“Governments must now demonstrate leadership by opening bilateral travel corridors on key international routes with countries that apply the same robust risk management processes.”

According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, in 2019 Travel & Tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million in total), making a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generating one in four of all new jobs.