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Covid-19: Opening Borders an Immediate Priority for Travel, Say Agency Trade Associations

Photo source: Heathrow Airport

Travel agency trade associations, collectively representing thousands of people who work at travel agencies and related businesses around the world, on Monday called on government leaders globally to align and make the opening of borders an immediate priority to let the restart of international travel occur.

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA), issued a joint announcement to speak with one voice on recovery from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.In the announcement, the associations highlight that the Covid-19 pandemic’s catastrophic impact on the tourism sector, of which travel agencies, tour operators and other travel-reliant small businesses are a critical part, illustrates the need for standardized entry requirements regarding vaccine verification, testing and other safeguards.

“For well over a year, inconsistent government orders in a wide range of countries intended to slow the spread of Covid-19 have created confusion and uncertainty among travelers, a chilling effect on future bookings and innumerable other challenges for our associations’ travel agency members and partners,” the announcement said.

As an example the associations refer to the recently updated European recommendations on non-essential travel to the EU, which “have thrust the industry and the travelers they serve into a state of confusion”.

Rules are same whether a traveler is vaccinated or not

Photo source: UNWTO

The associations highlight that many requirements have not changed since the start of the pandemic, regardless of whether a traveler is vaccinated or not.

“With continued uncertainty on the horizon, this sort of news makes those wanting to travel less likely to do so,” the associations said, underlining the economic impact on both global destinations that are reliant on travelers, as well as employees and small travel businesses.

ASTA, ABTA, ACTA, CHTA and ECTAA are calling on government leaders around the world to create an aligned and synchronized response by:

1) expeditiously developing clear vaccine and testing standards;
2) loosening entry restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers; and
3) providing the needed economic relief to the travel agency sector suffering for too long the bitter consequences of travel’s hard-stop brought on by the pandemic.

“The value of and need for travel advisors and agents in today’s world given the intense complexity of travel is vital now more than ever as consumers around the world attempt to recover from this pandemic with certainty and confidence,” the associations say.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in 2019, travel and tourism was one of the world’s largest sectors, accounting for 10.4 percent of global GDP (USD $9.2 trillion), 10.6 percent of all jobs (334 million), and was responsible for creating 1 of every 4 new jobs across the world.

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