WTTC calls on world leaders to save tourism sector

Two female tourists take a selfie in front of the empty Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy. Tourism has collapsed as a result of the covid-19 epidemic.

WTTC has made an urgent call to the heads of state of the G7 countries, plus Australia, South Korea and Spain, for strong leadership and international collaboration to save the travel and tourism sector.

In an unprecedented move, 120 of the world’s major travel and global business leaders have signed a letter backing the call by WTTC.

More than 100 CEOs in the travel and tourism industry has signed a letter addressed to the G7 and three other countries calling for strong international coordination to save tourism; two female tourists taking a selfie on the unusually empty Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy, amid the Covid-19 pandemic pictured

Signatories include representatives from PATA; major airlines such as British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Jet2, WestJet and Virgin Atlantic; top international hotel groups, such as Accor, Best Western, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, Meliá Hotels and Radisson; and major tour operators and travel companies, such as Abercrombie & Kent, American Express, Carlson Wagonlit, Expedia, Travelport, TUI and Uber.

WTTC said that despite travel and tourism’s crucial importance to the local and global economies, “there is no clear or internationally coordinated effort to protect this uniquely exposed sector”.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, said: “We have reached a stage where critical action is urgently needed. Any measures taken in silos moving forward will only worsen the plight of millions of ordinary people. We need to transcend politics and put the millions of livelihoods, which have been affected by Covid-19, front and centre.

“This is not a binary solution or a choice between health on the one hand, and jobs, the economy and travel on the other. We can make strong progress on all these fronts if we follow the expert advice from science and learn from the past and positive experiences of others.

“WTTC and the other signatories of the letter, sent to the leaders of the world, are committed to working together to help resolve the worst crisis of our generation, and bring back the millions of jobs impacted. However, the private sector cannot do this alone. It is vital that the leaders of these countries come together and prioritise rescuing the world from this unprecedented crisis, by acting in an effective and coordinated way to bring back more than 120 million jobs and livelihoods affected.”

In the letter, WTTC identified four measures which need concerted international framework and leadership to combat the coronavirus:

  1. Wearing a mask: This should be mandatory on all modes of transport throughout the entire traveller journey, as well as when visiting any interior venue and in locations where there is restricted movement which results in close personal contact and required physical distancing cannot be maintained. According to medical evidence, such measures can reduce the risk of the spread by up to 92 per cent.
  2. Testing and contact tracing: We need governments to invest and agree on extensive, rapid, and reliable testing, ideally with results available in as quick as 90 minutes, and at a low cost, before departure and/or after arrival (symptomatic and asymptomatic would-be travellers), supported by effective and agreed contact tracing tools. The application of one or multiple tests, with the second after five days, will help to isolate infected people.
  3. Quarantine for positive tests only: Quarantine for healthy travellers, which only serves to damage the economy, should not be necessary if testing is in place before departure and/or on arrival, and effective containment measures are taken five days later. This can replace blanket quarantine in a more targeted and effective way, significantly reducing the negative impact on jobs and the economy.
  4. Reinforcing global protocols and standardise measures: The adoption of global health and safety protocols will help rebuild traveller confidence and ensure a consistent, coordinated and aligned approach of the travel experience in addition to significantly reducing the risk of infection. We also support the Public Health Corridor Concept which promotes a clean and safe end-to-end journey.

WTTC stressed that its research has shown that even a modest resumption of travelling can have massive economic benefits and bring thousands of desperately needed jobs back; providing a critical boost for the travel and tourism sector and generating GDP for economies left floundering after being struck by the pandemic.

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