WTTC calls for consistent travel rules in European countries

Published on : Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) recently called upon several European countries to introduce more consistent travel rules and COVID-19 advice in order to avoid confusion by travellers and holidaymakers. The action arrived following the confusion created amongst travellers arriving in Europe for the first time since the ease of travel restrictions due to different forms of travel rules and advice from each country across the continent.

The different set of rules has been established as every country is presently standing at different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and ultimately delaying the recovery. The uneven patchwork of COVID-19 national border restrictions and rules across a supposedly single Schengen zone is a major limitation to cross-border movement. According to WTTC, unnecessary and inconsistent border constraints are restricting travellers and suppressing the resurgence of the travel and tourism sector. The organisation is of the opinion that tourism’s return is urgently needed to revive destinations so that it acts as a catalyst for the global economic recovery.

A latest research by WTTC shows that every 2.7% increase in travellers would generate or recover one million jobs in the tourism sector. It mentions that if governments work together with the right coordinated measures, it can stimulate an increase in travel by as much as 27% and even recreate a massive 10 million jobs in travel and tourism. WTTC mentioned that travellers of consumers are even facing certain confusion over simple travel rules such as the wearing of face masks. It pointed out that countries such as France and Germany have made the usage of face masks on public transport mandatory but no such compulsion exists for countries such as Norway and Sweden.

On the other hand, Italy has made it compulsory to wear masks in all enclosed public places whereas Switzerland has only recommended usage of masks in all enclosed public spaces other than on public transport if people fail to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from others. Recognised medical experts including Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has also informed that use of face masks helps reduce the risk of transmission up to 90%, protects the user and those around them, as well as reintroduces a greater sense of normality for travellers.

However, WTTC has warned that the fragile recovery might stutter and slowdown if European governments do not make a major effort to align their policies and also have a scope of putting 16 million jobs in the travel and tourism sector at risk. The organisation advised that in order to align policies, governments should take factor beyond mortality rates into consideration. It mentioned that wider country measures, including infection rates, the percentage of tests and contact tracing, the health system’s ability to cope with COVID-19 and the public’s acceptance of mask-wearing and observance of social distancing should all be considered important.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC said in a statement that WTTC called upon all European heads of state to unite for the benefit of the millions of people who depend on the travel and tourism sector in Europe including both travellers and workers. She mentioned that governments need to urgently learn from the past and take quick and effective action to coordinate and harmonise travel rules and border requirements to bring consistency for everyone across Europe. She said that previous crises, like the 2008 financial crash, are examples that show governmental coordination to align policies and great leadership had resulted in a quicker recovery.

She shared that everyone is encouraged to witness that more travellers are spending time searching for holiday destinations across Europe following the easing of travel restrictions but mentioned that the unfortunate lack of coordination among countries has created inconsistencies failing to rebuild the trust of potential travellers. She said that anyone travelling from one European country to the next faces a bewildering difference in travel advice, covering masks, testing and contact tracing and informed that this can seriously hinder the return of the travel and tourism sector.

She repeatedly mentioned that the climate of uncertainty for travellers and holidaymakers is the last thing required at a time when the travel and tourism sector is crying out for consistency. She mentioned that the restoration of consumer confidence, during the most important season of the year in one of the world’s largest regions for travel & tourism cannot be understated. She concluded that the time to work together is now and mentioned that the travel and tourism private sector wants to work in partnership with governments and destinations using WTTC’s carefully devised Safe Travels protocols to bring clarity and wipe away consumer confusion.

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