The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) on Wednesday welcomed the guidelines recently announced by EU agencies EASA/ECDC to support member states in determining a coordinated approach to reduce the risks related to travel within the EU/EEA countries and the UK in the context of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The guidelines of EASA/ECDC, among other things, consider the reduced likelihood for infection for those travelling for short periods (i.e. those expecting to return within 72 hours or less) and where contacts with the local population are limited and avoiding any social interactions. The agencies suggest such travellers should not be subjected to quarantines and/or Covid-19 testing unless they show any symptoms of the virus.
According to the WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, the recommendation for an exemption on quarantine for people travelling for less than 72 hours is a move that could signal the return of international business travel and provide a significant economic boost.
“The revival of international business travel is crucial to kickstarting the global economic recovery,” WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara said.
Last year, inbound international business travel across Europe accounted for US$111.3 billion (99.8 billion euros), whilst globally it accounted for more than US$272 billion.
“Airlines, hotels and a vast infrastructure of businesses within the global Travel & Tourism sector, all heavily rely upon business travel. The loss of international business travel leaves airlines especially exposed, particularly on highly competitive short-haul and transatlantic routes, which depend upon them for the bulk of their profits,” Guevara added.
The proposal seeing the exemption on quarantine for people travelling for less than 72 hours is also under active study by the UK government, according to the Report of the Global Travel Taskforce, of which WTTC is a key contributor, which was prepared for the Department for Transport.
Covid-19 testing at departure is essential
The WTTC agrees with EASA/ECDC who have called for travellers not to be automatically considered as high-risk for possibly spreading the Covid-19 infection.
However, the WTTC said the recommendations of EASA/ECDC fall short as they do not address the replacement of quarantines for a testing regime at departure, with quarantines causing untold damage to the already struggling global Travel & Tourism sector.
“While we welcome all initiatives which could lead to the revival of international travel, we hope to persuade EASA and ECDC to focus on testing at departure, rather than at the point of entry, so as to reduce the possibility of transmission on board aircraft and reduce unnecessary barriers to travel,” Guevara said.
The guidelines of the EASA/ECDC agencies continue to recommend that all of those who travel must still ensure they adhere to local social distancing rules, to protect themselves and others around them, at all times.
According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019, the global Travel & Tourism sector was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million total), and made a 10.3 percent contribution to global GDP and generated one in four of all new jobs.