WTTC urges the world to focus on ‘high-risk travellers’

 Wednesday, February 10, 2021 


The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has recently called upon governments to abandon the concept of ‘high-risk countries’ and urged to focus on how individual ‘high-risk travellers’ are treated at borders instead. WTTC is urging governments around the world to shift their focus from whole countries, towards individual travellers. The council mentioned that governments around the world should redefine their whole approach to risk assessment, to revive international business and leisure travel. 

It is of the opinion that a common international consensus on the metrics used to assess risk and a laser-like focus on a cost-effective, comprehensive, and rapid departure and arrival testing scheme for all travellers, can pave the way forward for the meaningful return of travel. It would also ensure only those affected are forced to isolate, while travellers who test negative can continue to enjoy safe travels through observing hygiene protocols and mask wearing.

Gloria Guevara, President and CEO, WTTC said in her statement that risk based on entire countries is neither effective nor productive and mentioned that redefining risk towards individual travellers instead will be the key for unlocking the door to the return of safe international travel asking everyone to learn from past experiences and crises such as 9-11. She stated that labelling entire countries as ‘high-risk’ which assumes everyone is infected should not be continued as the reality is much more complex.

She shared that the current notion not only stigmatise an entire nation, but also halts travel and mobility when many people who test negative on departure and arrival could safely travel without exporting the virus. She stated that the risk to focus on ‘high-risk’ individuals should be redefined and said that WTTC firmly believes implementing a comprehensive testing regime and the use of technology is the only practical way to restore international travel securely. She also said that a comprehensive testing programme will be less expensive than the economic cost brought on by blanket quarantines and lockdowns as the refocus would avoid exporting the virus and enable the free movement of travellers, while still observing enhanced hygiene protocols such as mask wearing and social distancing.

She added that people must learn to live with the virus, as it will take time for the global population to be vaccinated and said that WTTC has long advocated introducing a comprehensive and cost-effective test on departure and arrival for all international travellers, as a way of preventing those carrying the virus from spreading it. She concluded that a crucial balance needs to be struck between the priority on public health with the need to sustain economic activity and ensuring people are safe and healthy, while securing the health of the global economy and reviving the 174 million Travel & Tourism jobs affected by the devastating pandemic.

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