The restart of world tourism and travel could be seriously delayed without universal worldwide recognition of Covid-19 vaccines, according to a report published by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
In practice, recognition of vaccines is sketchy at best. Many prospective tourists who have been vaccinated in their home countries are being turned away at borders or not allowed to enter other countries at all. This is due to a lack of universal recognition of vaccines, according to the report, referencing the global tourism body.
“The global tourism body, which represents the global private Travel & Tourism sector, has issued its warning following concerns tourists face being turned away at the borders because countries don’t have a common list internationally recognised and approved COVID-19 vaccines,” the report reads. It continues, “Over the past few weeks reports of holidaymakers facing obstacles to entry have been on the rise, with some even being prevented from boarding their flights to destinations. WTTC believes that once again, the lack of international coordination to agree on a list of approved vaccines, is creating yet another major stumbling block for the restart of international travel.”
As a result of these difficulties, consumers are apprehensive to book trips anywhere abroad due to a lack of trust in actual international cooperation regarding vaccines, according to the report.
One of the key findings of the WTTC’s report is that there must be universal recognition of certain vaccines in order to save the travel and tourism industry and its operators, as well as rebuild trust in the consumer markets.
“Reciprocal recognition of all vaccine types and batches is essential if we are to avoid any further unnecessary and damaging delay to restarting international travel. The failure of countries to agree on a common list of all approved and recognised vaccines is of huge concern to WTTC, as we know every day travel is curbed, more cash-strapped Travel & Tourism businesses face even greater strain, pushing ever more to the brink of bankruptcy. We can avoid this by having a fully recognised list of all the approved vaccines – and vaccine batches – which should be the key to unlocking international travel, not the door to preventing it. It will also give holidaymakers and travellers the confidence they need to book trips, flights and cruises, confident in the knowledge that their fully-vaccinated status will be internationally recognised,” said WTTC Senior Vice President Virginia Messina.
To further their point, the WTTC laid out 4 fundamental guidelines for restoring international travel while still safeguarding public health. These are:
- Appropriately reduce the travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers, such as quarantines and mandatory testing.
- There should be a coordinated, data-driven approach to re-opening borders, and this should be communicated clearly to consumers.
- ‘Digital health passes,’ such as the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate, should be adopted globally.
- There should be continued implementation of high-quality health and safety standards.
Although the WTTC and other organizations have been making similar recommendations for more than one year at the time of writing, a truly coordinated response has not yet happened in the EU or Schengen Area, or any other region of the world.
International travel and tourism is expected to make a slow comeback, recovering to pre-pandemic levels by 2025.