The World Tourism and Travel Commission (WTTC) has made an official statement and announcement that they do not support waiting for COVID-19 vaccines to be distributed to everyone globally to resume travel.
According to the statement, vaccines will help in the long-term, but should not be a requirement for short-term travel, when other proven protocol to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while traveling already exist.
“Vaccines will help in the long-term, but they must not be a requirement for travel. International travel can already restart at minimal risk with a combination of effective testing regimes and robust hygiene protocols,” reads the main tagline of the WTTC’s announcement.
According to the announcement, the travel and tourism sector is in desperate need of some form of approval from governments to let businesses in the sector operate, or else it could spell the end to a large part of the industry.
The WTTC has taken the stance that while vaccines will be enormously beneficial to the sector, “they must not be a requirement to travel as this will further delay the revival of the already ailing Travel & Tourism sector, which needs to restart now to save itself, millions of jobs in the sector and beyond, and the global economy. 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,” the announcement reads.
According to the WTTC, 174 million jobs are now threatened by government shutdowns that are presumably waiting for the distribution of vaccines to let people start traveling again.
The WTTC and other key leaders in the field have identified four main measures to follow to ensure safety when traveling:
- Globally recognized testing regime on departure: test all passengers for COVID-19 before they depart from their place of origin.
- Common health and hygiene protocols: standardize health and hygiene protocols to ensure that the risk of infection while traveling is lower than being in public at large.
- Risk management regime: governments should adopt risk management approaches that are based on the actual recommendations of leading health and safety organizations.
- Travel passes: vaccines and travel passes can both work without the need for destructive and restrictive travel procedures.
The WTTC has now also passed the ball back into governments’ courts, stating that vaccines will be an incredible thing to have, but we should not pause everything until we get them. In addition, the WTTC called for governments to demonstrate leadership in their risk management protocol.
“WTTC welcomes the incredible developments and hugely encouraging medical advances on COVID-19 vaccines which has seen the beginning of coronavirus vaccinations. The vaccines currently being rolled out are truly game-changers, and hopefully just the first of many which could transform the world, 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 COVID-19 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 population, and the global Travel & Tourism sector simply cannot wait. Vaccination must not be a requirement to travel but should co-exist with testing regimes and be considered as a progressive enhancement to already safe travel. Governments must now demonstrate leadership by opening bilateral travel corridors on key international routes with countries that apply the same robust risk management processes,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO.
It is still unclear if any governments will follow the WTTC’s advice and calls for action.