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WhatThe World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is urging governments to redefine “high-risk” travel — at least when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than labeling countries or regions as high-risk and implying that entire populations within their borders are infected with the coronavirus, the organization believes governments should narrow the focus to individual travelers.
Why It MattersThis change represents an entirely new approach to risk assessment and could be a catalyst toward revamping the corporate and leisure travel markets, especially when paired with a “cost-effective, comprehensive and rapid departure and arrival testing scheme,” according to WTTC. This measure, which would require an international consensus on such metrics, would do away with blanket quarantines, lockdowns and the banning of specific populations from entering certain countries. It would allow healthy travelers — who tested negative upon departure and arrival but who may hail from countries with high infection rates — to travel safely.
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Fast Facts- Travel & Tourism contributed $8.9 trillion, or 10.3% toward the world’s GDP in 2019. It accounted for one in 10 global jobs, giving employment to 330 million people through the Travel & Tourism sector, according to WTTC’s 2019 Economic Impact Report.
What They Are Saying“We cannot continue labeling entire countries as ‘high-risk,’ which assumes everyone is infected,” said Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of WTTC. “While the U.K. is currently seeing high levels of infections, clearly not all Britons are infected; the same goes for all Americans, Spaniards or the French. We firmly believe implementing a comprehensive testing regime and the use of technology is the only practical way to restore international travel securely. Furthermore, a comprehensive testing program will be less expensive than the economic cost brought on by blanket quarantines and lockdowns.”
“We must learn to live with the virus, as it will take time for the global population to be vaccinated,” she added. “This is why WTTC has long advocated introducing a comprehensive and cost-effective test on departure and arrival for all international travelers, as a way of preventing those carrying the virus from spreading it. As always, there is a crucial balance to be struck between the priority on public health with the need to sustain economic activity.”
The DetailsWorld Travel & Tourism Councilwww.wttc.org