The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned governments around the world that further country-wide border closures could seriously jeopardise global economic recovery.
The council has urged authorities to take a softer approach and introduce localised measures, and only when necessary. Its aim is to avoid blanket restrictions, prevent stalling the fragile economic recovery and not cripple the already bruised and battered travel and tourism sector.
“Governments should not close off access to other countries in their entirety. Only regional border measures should be imposed if essential so that the recovery of a country’s whole economy is not jeopardised in future,” Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, said.
“The establishment of ‘air corridors’ between financial centres where infection levels are low, such as between London and New York, would provide a vital boost to business travel and aid the economic recovery.
“Enforcing country-wide restrictions is a blunt instrument which benefits no one; neither travellers, the local population, the economy or the travel and tourism sector which has been left reeling from the impact of worldwide travel restrictions.”
Guevara said the measures could undo significant efforts to revive the travel and tourism industry.
“Taking a more carefully calibrated approach to strategically combating coronavirus spikes with local measures rather than country-wide closures, will contain COVID-19 and preserve a country’s attempt to kick-start their economy by continuing to attract travellers to unaffected areas,” she said.
“Travel and tourism is critical to powering that economic recovery, generating one in four of all new jobs last year.”
WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report shows that during 2019, the sector supported one in 10 jobs of all jobs (330 million total) and made a massive 10.3 per cent contribution to global GDP.
“It is perfectly possible to fight COVID-19 and support the economic recovery through the travel and tourism sector at the same time,” Guevara said.
“We urge governments to consider only local lockdowns as the key to opening the door to a successful way forward.”
Restoring business travel, especially via transatlantic flights, is key to help kickstart economic recovery, according to the WTTC. Research by the organisation shows that for two of the world’s top business centres, business travellers account for one US dollar in every three spent in New York and one pound Sterling out of every four spent in London.
WTTC has also called for more consistent COVID-19 travel rules to be adopted by European countries to counter confusion by travellers and holidaymakers who faced a baffling array of different types of travel rules advice.
The organisation has been concerned that the uneven patchwork of COVID-19 national border restrictions would deter travellers and suppress the resurgence of the travel and tourism sector. However, learning from response to past pandemic outbreaks, governments could avoid delaying the much-needed economic recovery.
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