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The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) believes travel will begin to see “a new normal” in the coming months, likely preceding a readily available vaccine for COVID-19.
The organization has introduced a plan called “Traveling in the New Normal,” which offers the industry a set of new standards and protocols to ensure a “safe and responsible road to recovery for the global travel and tourism sector as consumers start planning trips again.”
WTTC expects to share these protocols with governments globally in the next two weeks, ensuring a coordinated approach to traveling during the pandemic.
The organization believes that public-private collaboration between businesses and governments is vital, and has been engaging the private sector and sharing its feedback on best practices from around the world.
“We have learned from past experiences that when the protocols from private sector are taken into account and we have a coordinated approach, the recovery timeframe is significantly reduced — so private-public sector collaboration is crucial,” said Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of WTTC. “We should avoid new, unnecessary procedures that create bottlenecks and slow down the recovery. However, a quick and effective restart of travel will only happen if governments around the world agree to a common set of health protocols developed by the private sector, such as those we’ve outlined.”
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What Are the New Protocols?The new measures are still being defined as the organization processes feedback from the World Health Organization, WTTC members and industry associations, which include the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Airport Council International (ACI), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), United States Travel Association (USTA), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Travel Commission (ETC) and the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
A quick and effective restart of travel will only happen if governments around the world agree to a common set of health protocols developed by the private sector, such as those we’ve outlined.
In addition to this feedback, the organization is calling on intel from China’s initial recovery and from new successful standards used by retailers.
In terms of the aviation industry, IATA, ACI and ICAO are collaborating to identify the best protocols for air travel moving forward.
According to WTTC, this includes airport travelers testing for the virus before flying and upon arrival at their destination airport.
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Other air-related protocols include taking social distancing measures at the airport and during boarding, as well as wearing masks while onboard. WTTC believes that aircraft will also be subject to intensive cleansing regimes.
“These measures will be combined with contact-tracing, via a mobile app, that will allow flights to leave airports COVID-19-free,” according to WTTC.
Hotels are developing standards based on what they’ve learned from providing free rooms to frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic.
New protocols for hotel check-in will “involve digital technology; hand sanitizer stations at frequent points including where luggage is stored; contactless payment instead of cash; using stairs more often than lifts where the six-foot [distancing] rule can be harder to maintain; and fitness equipment being moved for greater separation,” according to WTTC.
Cruise measures, meanwhile, will include frequent room cleaning and a requirement for staff to wear gloves at all times.
“These [standards] must provide the reassurance travelers and authorities need, using new technology, to offer hassle-free, pre-vaccine ‘new normal’ travel in the short term,” Guevara said.
What Will Return First?The organization is predicting that domestic travel will return first. Following the emergence of staycations, travelers will venture out to neighboring countries before crossing continents. WTTC expects that travelers in the 18-35 age group will be among the first to travel.
According to WTTC, positive signs of recovery include research by Cirium, a travel data and analytics firm, which shows that more than 30% of domestic capacity has returned to the Chinese aviation market in the last two months. And in Vietnam, domestic flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Saigon have resumed, with few reported coronavirus fatalities.
The DetailsWorld Travel & Tourism Councilwww.wttc.org
Read more from TravelAge West about the COVID-19 outbreak.