The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and major international industry bodies have joined forces to call for the immediate restoration of international travel using proven processes and without waiting for, or requiring, vaccinations.
WTTC has joined with Airports Council International (ACI), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), to argue the world cannot wait for the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.
Officials said they recognised that public health is paramount and welcome the recent roll out of the game changing vaccines, which in the long-term will play a major role in combating coronavirus and restoring international travel.
However, they must not be a requirement to travel as this will further delay the revival of the already ailing tourism sector, which needs to restart now to save millions of jobs and help restart the global economy.
Getting people back to work will also provide enormous health benefits to those around the world, whose livelihoods have been affected by the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.
The safe opening of existing travel corridors such as London Heathrow–Dubai, with appropriate testing and hygiene protocols, demonstrates international travel can already take place at minimal and acceptable risk.
Together the bodies have identified four key measures which need to be implemented to restore international travel safely; globally recognised testing regimes before departure, common health and hygiene protocols that are aligned with globally-established standards set out by ICAO, a risk management regime and internationally consistent and recognised travel passes.
WTTC and the industry bodies warn against the introduction of so-called ‘health passports’ - as opposed to internationally-recognised travel passes currently being considered - which would only further delay the recovery.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC chief executive, said: “WTTC welcomes the incredible developments and hugely encouraging medical advances on COVID-19 vaccines which has seen the beginning of coronavirus vaccinations.
“The vaccines currently being rolled out are truly game-changers, and hopefully just the first of many which could transform the world, mark the beginning of our return to a more normal way of life and see the return of safe and confident international travel.
“Safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines will be critical to combatting Covid-19 and restoring confidence for people to interact with one another.
“However, it will take considerable time to vaccinate the world and for the vaccines to have a significant effect on the global population, and the global tourism sector simply cannot wait.
“Vaccination must not be a requirement to travel but should co-exist with testing regimes and be considered as a progressive enhancement to already safe travel.
“Governments must now demonstrate leadership by opening bilateral travel corridors on key international routes with countries that apply the same robust risk management processes.”