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UNWTO – WHO: Covid-19 Travel Measures Should Be Based on Risk Assessment

UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are calling for the lifting of travel bans as they do not provide added value and continue to contribute to economic and social stress.

Following a recent meeting in Geneva, UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of easing or lifting travel bans and agreed that blanket restrictions should be replaced with risk -based, evidence- informed, context-specific policies.

“Guided by UNWTO, global tourism has followed WHO advice from the very start of the Covid-19 crisis,” Zurab Pololikashvili said.

He also underscored the need to “open up again, safely and responsibly, and allow tourism to deliver on its unique potential as a driver of recovery and growth”.

An evidence-driven approach

According to the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee on COVID-19, all measures applied to international travellers should be based on “risk assessments – including testing, isolation and vaccinations”.

Furthermore, the financial burden of such measures should not be placed on travelers themselves.

“As countries ease travel restrictions, health must remain the key priority. By basing their decisions on evidence and a risk-based approach adapted to their specific context, countries can find the right balance between keeping people safe, protecting livelihoods and the economy, and keeping borders open”, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Among the countries to have revised their travel restrictions is Switzerland, one of Europe’s leading destinations, which welcomed the UNWTO delegation earlier this week.

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