WTTC plea to save UK tourism

LONDON, 22 February 2021: The World Travel & Tourism Council sent an open letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the weekend, urging him to adopt a Covid-19 exit strategy to save tourism.

The letter has relevance for most countries in Asia that are still struggling with lockdowns or stringent quarantine measures. It presents four key fundamentals.

Restore international mobility

Safely restore mobility through an internationally coordinated approach with public and private collaboration. The objective is to establish an international mobility framework and remove restrictions such as quarantine.

WTTC’s letter to the UK PM strongly opposes reinstating air corridors arguing they could ‘burn bridges’ with overseas governments looking to agree on trade and other deals post-Brexit.

“We know from extensive consultation with WTTC members and governments worldwide that there is strong opposition to air corridors.”

“They are not the answer and have created great uncertainty for countries, consumers, airlines, and travel agents up and down the country, causing more problems than solutions.

Shift risk assessment

WTTC reiterates earlier calls to shift from risk assessments based on countries to individual travellers through a robust and comprehensive testing regime supported by technology and digital health passes.

“The way to save travel and tourism while avoiding importing and exporting the virus is to shift the focus from entire countries to individual travellers’ risk assessment, irrespective of which country people are travelling from,” the WTTC president and CEO, Gloria Guevara.

“Using the UK’s leading practices in technologies in border control, and implementing a comprehensive testing regime on arrival and departure, is less destructive and disruptive to the economy than blanket quarantines.”

Reinforce health protocols

The letter calls for a reinforcement of health and hygiene protocols, including mandatory mask-wearing in addition to the vaccination rollout, as part of an integrated solution. In other words, the safety steps we now take as everyday precautions need to stay in place for some time to come.

“What is very clear from all we have experienced in the past 12 months is that we will not see a complete return to pre-pandemic days. We will have to adapt to coexist with the virus and the future of travel and tourism, but we will see widespread use of digital and biometric technology, alongside mask-wearing and hygiene protocols, to create a touchless and seamless travel experience.”

Support packages for tourism players

WTTC recommends that governments continue to offer support packages for the travel and tourism sector.

WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report shows that in 2019, Travel & Tourism generated UKP200 billion or 9% of the UK’s GDP. It was responsible for almost 4 million jobs, or 11% of the country’s total workforce, hence its importance to aid boost economic recovery.

The WTTC president added: “While we applaud the government’s incredible progress on the rollout of vaccines to combat the virus, the travel and tourism sector is still massively exposed to the terrible impact of anti-Covid-19 travel restrictions.

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