The WTTC is calling on governments to abandon the concept of “high-risk countries” and instead focus on how individual “high-risk travellers” are treated at borders, in order to revive international travel securely.
Rather than labelling entire populations as “high-risk”, governments around the world should look at individual traveller risk assessment, relying on comprehensive testing and use of technology to avoid exporting the virus.
A common international consensus on the metrics used to assess risk coupled with a focus on a cost-effective, comprehensive, and rapid departure and arrival testing scheme for all travellers could pave the way forward for the meaningful return of travel, said WTTC.
It would also ensure only those affected are forced to isolate, while travellers who test negative can continue to enjoy safe travels through observing hygiene protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, said: “Risk based on entire countries is neither effective nor productive. Redefining risk towards individual travellers instead will be key for unlocking the door to the return of safe international travel. We need to learn from past experiences and crises such as 9-11.
“We cannot continue labelling entire countries as ‘high-risk’ which assumes everyone is infected. While the UK is currently seeing high levels of infections, clearly not all Britons are infected; the same goes for all Americans, Spaniards, or the French.
“The reality is much more complex. Not only does it stigmatise an entire nation, but it also halts travel and mobility when many people who test negative on departure and arrival could safely travel without exporting the virus.”
Guevara also pointed out that a comprehensive testing regime will be less costly than the implementation of blanket quarantines and lockdowns.
“We must learn to live with the virus, as it will take time for the global population to be vaccinated. This is why WTTC has long advocated introducing a comprehensive and cost-effective test on departure and arrival for all international travellers, as a way of preventing those carrying the virus from spreading it,” she said.
“As always, there is a crucial balance to be struck between the priority on public health with the need to sustain economic activity. (Besides) ensuring people are safe and healthy, we also need to secure the health of the global economy – and revive the 174 million travel and tourism jobs affected by this devastating pandemic.”