Published on : Wednesday, February 24, 2021
While the U.K. government has decided to continue travel restrictions in order to curb the spread of the new strain of COVID-19 across the country, WTTC has warned the process may take a longer time. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently unveiled that a global travel taskforce will report on the reopening of travel, starting April 12 and stated that non-essential international travel might not return any time before May 17.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said in her statement that while WTTC welcomes the incredible progress the U.K. government has made on the vaccine rollout programme, delaying the return of international travel until at least mid-May, could mean the travel & tourism sector simply would not survive and struggling SMEs will just disappear. She shared that the sector was banking its hopes on a quicker return to international travel, so there will be widespread dismay at the news and mentioned that return is crucial if the U.K. economy is to recover from the ravages of the pandemic, given the sector generates £200 billion to the U.K.’s GDP and supports almost four million jobs.
She informed that in a recent letter to Boris Johnson, WTTC’s plan to revive international travel recommended an international coordinated approach, led by the U.K., with public and private collaboration, to establish an international mobility framework to allow the safe movement of people, and remove restrictions such as blanket quarantines including the U.K. government moving from risk assessments based on countries to individual travellers, through a robust and comprehensive testing regime supported by technology and digital health passes.
She mentioned that WTTC’s plan also addresses reinforcing health and hygiene protocols, including mandatory mask wearing in addition to the vaccination rollout, as part of an integral solution; and providing major support packages to travel & tourism businesses which are struggling to keep their heads above the water. She added that travel and tourism is one of the most diverse sectors in the world, in which 54% of those employed are women and said that delaying the reopening of travel will have a profound impact on the nearly three million jobs affected by the restrictions to curb COVID-19.