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
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
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.