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International travel can be safely rebooked, says WTTC

NEWS RELEASE – 14 December 2020: International travel can be safely rebooked without waiting for vaccines, according to WTTC and industry associations. Vaccines will definitely help in the long run, but they shouldn't be a requirement for travel. International travel can start again with minimal risk with a combination of effective testing regimes and robust hygiene protocols.

World Travel & Tourism Council

While The Netherlands getting ready for a hard lockdown, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and major international industry associations have joined forces to advocate for the immediate reinstatement of international travel using proven processes and without waiting for vaccine availability.

WTTC, which represents the global private sector of Travel & Tourism along with Airports Council International (ACI), the World Economic Forum (WEF), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), says the world cannot and does not have to wait for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Public health comes first

WTTC recognizes that public health is paramount and welcomes the recent rollout of game-changing vaccines. In the long term, vaccines will play an important role in the fight against the coronavirus and the recovery of international travel.

However, they should not be a requirement for travel, WTTC says. As this is the revival of the already ailing travel and tourism sector will harm. Recent research from WTTC showed that as many as 174 million jobs in the world of travel and tourism are under threat. In the EU, approximately 400.000 jobs in the travel sector directly at risk.

Also read: The impact of the coronavirus on the safari industry

Safe hygiene protocols

The safe (re)opening of existing routes with suitable testing and hygiene protocols demonstrates that international travel can already take place with minimal and acceptable risk. KLM and Delta Airlines, for example, have already demonstrated in various pilots that this is possible. Said recently came up with a comprehensive Covid-19 test program for international flights.

WTTC and the industry associations warn against the introduction of so-called "health passports" - as opposed to internationally recognized travel passes currently under consideration - which would only further delay the recovery.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “WTTC welcomes the incredible developments and tremendously encouraging medical advances related to COVID-19 vaccines.

“The vaccines currently being rolled out are real game-changers, and hopefully just the first of many that could transform the world, marking the beginning of our return to a more normal way of life and the return of safe and confident international travel .

Many planes have been parked at airports for months
Many planes have been parked at airports for months

“Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines will be critical to fighting COVID-19 and restoring people's confidence to interact with each other. However, it will take quite some time to vaccinate the world and for the vaccines to have a significant effect on the world's population. The global travel and tourism industry just can't wait. Vaccination should not be a requirement for travel, but should go hand in hand with testing regimens and be seen as a gradual improvement in already safe travel.

“Governments must now show leadership by opening key international routes with countries adopting the same robust risk management processes.”

WTTC, ACI, WEF and ICC warn against the introduction of so-called "health passports" – as opposed to internationally recognized travel passes currently under consideration – which would only further delay the recovery. The industry has been under tremendous pressure since the outbreak began and recent WTTC research shows that as many as 174 million jobs in the world of travel and tourism are now at risk.

The measures to make Covid-19 travel possible

The four measures identified by WTTC and its international partners are as follows:

  1. Globally recognized test regime on departure – It is essential that all passengers test quickly and cost-effectively on departure according to international standards to minimize the risk of transfer
  2. Common Health and Hygiene Protocols – Increased health and hygiene protocols, such as the WTTC Safe Travels protocols, may actually mean that the risk of transmission while traveling is lower than in the community at large
  3. Risk management regime – All governments should have a clear risk management policy in accordance with the recent recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART) and the guidelines of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the European Center for Disease Prevention and control (EASA / ECDC). This is in stark contrast to the current approach to risk aversion, reflected in 14-day quarantines, which crushes both business and leisure travel.
  4. Travel passes – Vaccines can partner with digital travel passes, such as CommonPass, AOK Pass and IATA Travel Pass to ensure the common certification of test results to breathe new life into travel, without the need for restrictive and unnecessary travel barriers
Source: wttc.org
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