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Travel Industry Bands Together Asking Governments to Open Borders

Travel Industry Bands Together Asking Governments to Open Borders
Joe Cortez

The chief executives of over 100 companies in the travel and tourism industry are coming together to send letters to many governmental leaders, asking them to find ways to open borders once more during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letters are being distributed to the G7 countries, along with Australia, South Korea, and Spain.

Over 100 executives in the travel space are joining with the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) to ask governments to take steps to reopen borders and open skies for flyers once more during the COVID-19 pandemic. The open letters were sent to the governments of the Group of Seven (G7), along with the governments of Australia, South Korea and Spain.

Letters Ask for Governments to Adopt Four Measures to Limit COVID-19 Spread

The group of executives signing the letter include the executives of airlines British Airways, Emirates, Etihad and WestJet, along with hotel leaders from Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotel Group, Marriott and Radisson. In the letters, the leaders acknowledge the major role travel plays in international commerce, leading to their request to reopen borders.

“As you will be aware, Travel & Tourism has been a critical catalyst for economic growth, and is responsible for 330 million jobs, or one in ten jobs globally, and 10.3% of global GDP (USD 8.9 trillion),” the letter to American leaders reads. “The restart and recovery of Travel & Tourism, and its associated economic and social benefits, is highly dependent on rebuilding traveler confidence and consistent alignment amongst countries.”

The leaders are asking for all of the countries to adopt four measures, which they believe would help travelers stay safe and allow for safely reopening borders. First, the group asks that all travel providers mandate use of face masks throughout the entire travel process. Most airlines have already adopted mandatory face mask usage, with some going so far to ban certain types of face coverings.

Second, the group is asking governments to “invest and agree on extensive, rapid, and reliable testing” before departure, or upon arrival. According to the WTTC, mandating treatment upon arrival could reduce the risk of spreading the novel Coronavirus by 92 percent. This would lead to a quarantine of positive tests only, which would reduce the need for a blanket quarantine of all travelers.

“Quarantine for healthy travelers, which only serves to damage the economy, should not be necessary if testing is in place before departure and/or on arrival, and effective containment measures are taken five days later,” the WTTC says in their call to open borders. “This can replace blanket quarantine in a more targeted and effective way significantly reducing the negative impact on jobs and the economy.”

Finally, the WTTC-lead group is asking countries to adopt a global standard set of health protocols. By using a uniform set of rules, the WTTC says they can rebuilt traveler confidence and encourage more international travel, while significantly reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19.

“The United States has a proud history of showing leadership when the world needed it the most,” the letter to American leaders reads. “We are now requesting your urgent personal engagement and leadership to ensure international collaboration and alignment that is desperately needed for the recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector.”

WTTC Request Mirrors That of Other Organizations

The group of executives asking for support for the travel sector is the latest request for supporting travel, mirroring a number of similar requests by international trade groups. Earlier in August 2020, Airports Council International asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to focus on a risk-based program, instead of blanket quarantines for all arriving passengers.

And in July 2020, the International Air Transportation Association asked governments to consider “policy alternatives” instead of continued quarantine processes. Their plan called for public health screenings at airports, followed by testing for select passengers traveling from “higher risk” countries.

View Comments (7)

7 Comments

  1. DeltaFlyer123

    August 19, 2020 at 5:13 am

    I agree with the measured approach to opening up the travel and hospitality industry, except for one thing – it seems impossible to enforce something as simple as people wearing masks and not congregating in dense groups. Mandating such rules does not mean that people will comply, and the punishment is often only enforceable by physical violence. How do we get over that hurdle?

  2. nycityny

    August 19, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Good luck getting the United States to agree to a global set of health standards. They can’t even agree on a domestic set of standards, with each state doing their own thing. Every country has a right, and indeed an obligation to its residents, to exclude tourists from places like the United States, Brazil, and Russia until they can get their own acts in order.

  3. sfoeuroflyer

    August 19, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    The closed borders are accomplishing nothing right now. Neither are the quarantines. Example: Switzerland lets in tens of thousands of Italians and French every single day to work but blocks Americans. Likewise America blocks the Swiss from entering. Test results change none of this. And then we have the stupid NY quarantines on visitors they seem not to like. I am in Idaho in a county we no new infections yet am effectively banned from NY by the quarantine rule. NY and NJ account for 20% of all US deaths and they ban me? But New York tourists are free to come to Idaho. Irrationality is ruling here.

  4. nycityny

    August 19, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    sfoeuroflyer – New York residents were banned from many states early on when most of those deaths you mention occurred. Now the state has gotten their deaths down to about a dozen a day and are trying to keep it that way. Meantime, Idaho as a whole state has a 7-day average of 20 new Covid cases per 100,000 people, double the threshold established by New York’s quarantine rule. New York’s number is 3. Perhaps the quarantine is achieving something.

  5. aldosanta

    August 19, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    Despite the devastation on the tourist industry this article remains one of the most ludicrous proposals I have read.
    We are still finding out today how Covid 19 can affect your health into the future if you don’t die from it soon after contracting the virus.
    The only hope the travel industry has is a vaccine.
    Until then no government will agree to open borders. Oh and then we will have to cope with people who do not believe in being vaccinated. Face masks are only one minor part of prevention and not the cure of continuing the spread of Covid 19.

  6. StuckInYYZ

    August 20, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    I have an ask for the airlines… Social distancing (no middle seats)… With the constant movement of air on an airplane, we don’t need 6ft separation, I’d be willing to work with 3ft.

    Quarantine stays… These tests are a snapshot of the person at a given time… Does not show if a person was infected shortly before boarding and does not show if a person were to start shedding during a flight. Toronto has seen 30+ sick people arriving in the last few months at the airport…

  7. somil34

    September 12, 2020 at 12:12 am

    yes now the government should open all schools and mall, cinema hall, and other public places because in many countries the rate death of COVID 19 get reduce

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