Published on : Friday, August 14, 2020
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recently called upon the U.K. government to provide strong leadership to save the struggling tourism sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as help recover the millions of jobs that has been affected due to the crisis. More than 100 major travel and global business leaders from different sectors of the industry including airlines, airports, hotels, tour operators and travel companies is providing support towards the unprecedented move.
Several industry leaders came together to sign a letter addressed to the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and six other heads of state of the members of the G7 group of countries (Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, U.K., U.S.), as well as Australia, South Korea and Spain, all of which are major source markets, requesting urgent coordinated action. The letter called for the U.K.’s leadership during the critical times and was also sent to Keir Starmer and other such international opposition leaders, highlighting the non-partisan nature of the crisis.
As the crippling travel restrictions continue to remain in place, the number of job losses around the world will continue to increase. WTTC has anticipated that if global leaders fail to come together, the tourism sector will face irreversible damage. Gloria Guevara, President and CEO, WTTC said in her statement that in a time when the tourism sector is buckling under mounting pressure, and the global economy is struggling to survive, it is important to inquire who is in charge of getting people out of the present crisis by leading the world to save the jobs and securing the futures of the many millions of people across the globe. She mentioned that the world has reached a stage where critical action is urgently necessary.
She informed that WTTC recognises that each country must protect their own citizens and hence has been prioritising domestic matters to date, and that any measures taken in silos moving forward will only worsen the plight of millions of ordinary people. She mentioned that transcending politics and putting the millions of livelihoods affected by the COVID-19 crisis is highly essential at the moment. She shared that from cabin crew to hotel staff, travel agents to call centre agents, waiters to housekeepers, and many more are the unsung heroes who depend upon a thriving tourism sector and said that the voices of ordinary people must be heard. She mentioned that WTTC is also calling upon those people to let world leaders know, in no uncertain terms, that the time for action is now.
She said that a binary solution or a choice between health on one hand, and jobs, the economy and travel on the other should not be the approach at present and assured that a strong progress on all these fronts is possible if people follow the expert advice from science and learn from the past and positive experiences of others. She further informed that WTTC and the other signatories of the letter, sent to the leaders of the world, are committed to working together to help resolve the worst crisis of this generation, and bring back the millions of jobs impacted. However, she also said that the private sector cannot do this alone. She mentioned that history shows that the road to recovery can be either long and painful, or shorter and less devastating. She also mentioned that during the 2008 financial crisis, strong global leadership, and public-private collaboration, made recovery possible in a much shorter timeframe and hence it is necessary for everyone to come together to restore the confidence to travel and put people back to work to rebuild the global economy.
She concluded that it is important that country leaders come together and prioritise rescuing the world from the unprecedented crisis, by acting in an effective and coordinated way to bring back more than 120 million jobs and livelihoods affected. Among those backing the WTTC call were the business leaders of major airlines, such as British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Jet2, WestJet and Virgin Atlantic. Business leaders from top international hotel groups, such as Accor, Best Western, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, Meliá Hotels and Radisson have also supported the initiative. Endorsement has also come from major tour operators and travel companies, such as Abercrombie & Kent, American Express, Carlson Wagonlit, Expedia, Travelport, TUI and Uber.
In the mentioned letter, WTTC has identified four necessary measures to combat the coronavirus crisis like mandatory usage of masks, government investment on extensive, rapid, and reliable testing and contact tracing, compulsory quarantine measures only for travellers who have tested positive and the reinforcement of global health and safety protocols and standardise measures to help rebuild traveller confidence and ensure a consistent, coordinated and aligned approach of the travel experience in addition to significantly reducing the risk of infection. WTTC is also supporting the Public Health Corridor Concept which promotes a clean and safe end-to-end journey.