WTTC calls for governments to support travel ‘bubbles’ as it outlines new guidelines

Travel bubbles, Concept image for transportation during covid-19 pandemic, Airplane fly in safe rout , Global principle to reopen country for oversea trip, 3D illustration

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has outlined what it describes as “critical calls to action” for governments to ensure tourism recovers from COVID-19.

Among its five demands, the WTTC is calling on nations to remove blanket travel advisories as countries reopen, and recommendations against non-essential international travel, which prevent insurance protection for travellers.

It comes as the council laid out its new guidelines for “safe and seamless” travel late last week, which include an emphasis on testing and tracing, following the advice of peak health authorities, and the swift implementation of contactless technologies at airports.

Furthermore, governments must support travel ‘bubbles’ and ‘tourism corridors’ between so-called “low-risk COVID-19 areas” based on “recognised criteria” on what constitutes low, medium and high risk, which could limit testing requirements for travellers, according to the council.

See more: Indonesia eyes travel bubble with Australia, Japan, South Korea, and China

The WTTC is also calling for nations to unilaterally support quick and reliable coronavirus tests, and rapid testing and contact tracing strategies, to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected over 10 million people in more than 210 countries and territories.

And, importantly, the council is also calling for support of a global standard of traveller health insurance, or at least minimum requirements, defined with private sector insurance companies.

The initiative forms part of the WTTC’s ‘Safe and Seamless Traveller Journey’ (SSTJ), which the council said aims to enable a safe and secure end-to-end traveller experience, including flights and non-air travel.

Among the measures argued for is the replacement of manual verification at airports with contactless technologies, like biometric scanners, for short- and long-haul flights, as well as the use of offsite processing of travellers to reduce potential transmission of the coronavirus.

According to the WTTC, which formed its SSTJ guidelines with the advice of the World Health Organisation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the detection and isolation of people with the virus has proved to be an effective mechanism to curb previous outbreaks.

“This has enabled [tourists] to travel again without a vaccine, as in previous outbreaks such as Ebola, SARS and MERS,” the WTTC said in a press release.

“Since 80 per cent of COVID-19 carriers are asymptomatic according to medical experts, testing and tracing becomes crucial to control and reduce the transmission.”

Moreover, the SSTJ initiative comes as the next step in a concerted effort to approach COVID-19 recovery – and the reaffirmation of trust between operators and travellers – unilaterally by the WTTC, highlighted by the formation of the council’s industry-wide ‘Safe Travels’ protocols.

Late last week, the council unveiled its health and safety guidelines for attractions, car hire and short-term rental companies, which were welcomed by the likes of Airbnb and City Sightseeing Worldwide.

Featured image: iStock/babyrhino

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