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WTTC: Governments Should Focus on ‘High-risk Travelers’

WTTC is urging governments around the world to shift their focus from whole countries, towards individual travelers

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is calling for governments to abandon the concept of ‘high-risk countries’ and instead focus on how individual ‘high-risk travelers’ are treated at borders.

“Risk based on entire countries is neither effective nor productive. Redefining risk towards individual travelers 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,” Gloria Guevara, WTTC President and CEO, said.

WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, is urging governments around the world to redefine their whole approach to Covid-19 risk assessment, to revive international business and leisure travel.

According to the WTTC, by labeling countries as ‘high-risk’, not only does it stigmatize 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.

We cannot continue labeling 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 WTTC’s president said.

Testing key to restore int’l travel

The WTTC believes implementing a rapid departure and arrival testing scheme for all travelers and the use of technology is the only practical way to restore international travel securely.

“Furthermore, a comprehensive testing program will be less expensive than the economic cost brought on by blanket quarantines and lockdowns,” Guevara said, adding that it would also ensure only those affected are forced to isolate, while travelers who test negative can continue to enjoy safe travels through observing hygiene protocols and mask wearing.

According to WTTC’s 2019 Economic Impact Report, Travel & Tourism contributed US$8.9 trillion, or 10.3 percent towards the world’s GDP. It accounted for one in 10 global jobs, giving employment to 330 million people through the Travel & Tourism sector.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected 174 million Travel & Tourism jobs, the WTTC says.

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