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Covid-19: WTTC to Announce Health Protocols for Travel and Tourism

WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is currently working on new health protocols in an aim to form the travel experience and also provide people with strong reassurances when travelling in the post-coronavirus period.

The WTTC expects to announce the new protocols in the next two weeks and share them with governments globally, so there is a coordinated approach to travelling within the Covid-19 world.

The new protocols are part of the WTTC’s plan called “Travelling in the New Normal”, which includes critical steps, coordinated actions and new standards that see to offer a safe and responsible road to recovery for the global Travel & Tourism sector as consumers start planning trips again.

Photo source: WTTC

As countries begin to end their Covid-19 lockdowns and ease travel restrictions, WTTC expects the sector to face a gradual return to travel over the coming months as a “new normal” emerges before a vaccine becomes available on a mass scale, large enough to inoculate billions of people.

However, according to WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara, a quick and effective restart of travel will only happen if governments around the world agree to a common set of health protocols developed by the private sector.

“These must provide the reassurance travellers and authorities need, using new technology, to offer hassle-free, pre-vaccine ‘new normal’ travel in the short term,” Guevara said.

The new health protocols

The new protocols and standards are being defined following feedback and multiple conversations with WTTC Members, as well collaboration from associations who represent the different travel sectors.

To offer world-class cleanliness, improved hygiene standards and ensure guest safety, hotels are developing protocols based on learnings from offering free rooms to frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

There will be new protocols for check-in involving digital technology; hand sanitiser stations at frequent points including where luggage is stored; contactless payment instead of cash; using stairs more often than lifts where the 2 meter rule can be harder to maintain; and fitness equipment being moved for greater separation among other examples.

Photo source: WTTC

Cruise operators will take further measures to ensure ships are free of Covid-19 including staff wearing gloves at all times which are then frequently changed; and more frequent room cleaning.

Travellers at airports will find themselves tested before they fly and upon arrival at their destination airport. They can expect to see social distancing measures at the airport and during boarding, as well as wearing masks while onboard.

Aircraft will also be subject to intensive cleansing regimes. These measures will be combined with contact-tracing, via mobile app, that will allow flights to leave airports coronavirus-free.

Photo source: Prague Airport

According to WTTC, the new protocols have been developed using experience from China’s initial recovery and from new successful standards used by retailers.

To speed up the global recovery WTTC said it will continue to work closely with the G20, EU, international organisations and governments around the world to help translate the new protocols into easily adopted public policies by each country while adhering to common global standards.

Collaborators to the new protocols include the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Airport Council International (ACI), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), United States Travel Association (USTA), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Travel Commission (ETC) and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and other health experts have also contributed by providing their experience from various global medical crises.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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