Setting Covid-19 vaccination as a prerequisite for travel would be equal to “discrimination“, said World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) President & CEO Gloria Guevara on Tuesday.
The WTTC has repeatedly stressed that vaccines will help in the long-term, but they must not be a requirement for travel.
“It will take a significant amount of time to vaccinate the global population, particularly those in less advanced countries, or in different age groups, therefore we should not discriminate against those who wish to travel but have not been vaccinated,” said Guevara in a statement released a day after a Reuters Next conference panel where she rejected the idea of compulsory Covid-19 vaccination as a requirement for travel.
“We should never require the vaccination to get a job or to travel,” said Guevara.
Speaking during the Reuters event the head of the WTTC also condemned Qantas’ announced pre-flight vaccination requirement for international travel.
“I totally disagree with the approach from Qantas. If you require the vaccination before travel, that takes us to discrimination.”
Guevara went on to cite airline safety protocols and on-board air filtration as measures which ensure passengers had “less chance to get Covid in a plane (than) in a supermarket”.
“We need to protect vulnerable groups and prioritize the vaccination for them,” she added.
“Only a tiny percentage of people around the world have so far received the vaccine, whereas there are vast numbers who have not, but who could be tested, show a negative result, and travel safely,” she said in the statement issued on Tuesday.
“The common sense approach is to allow the free movement of people who can prove a negative test result, rather than reserve traveling or jobs for a small minority who have been vaccinated.”
International travel, the WTTC says, can restart at minimal risk with a combination of effective testing regimes and hygiene protocols.
Joining the WTTC, are travel and aviation groups ACI, WEF, and ICC which all call for immediate action to save the sector and restore “ubiquitous and equal freedom” to travel to the citizens of the world.
It should be reminded, that the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines globally and is eager to get operations going, proposed the idea of a digital health pass, which would include vaccine information. IATA said its IATA Travel Pass was in the final phase of development and would be tested later this year, with the aim of launching in the first quarter of 2021.
In the meantime, governments across Europe have launched vaccination programs in efforts to curb the spread of the deadly virus and restart their economies.
The WTTC has repeatedly called for an internationally recognized rapid and cost-effective testing regime upon departure at airports worldwide which would help stop the export of the virus and contribute to the restoration of international travel.