Travel agency associations have been urged to create “one collective voice” to give a clear message to governments around the world about the need to open up international travel.
The importance of creating a more “harmonised” system for international travel, using Covid vaccinations, was one of the main calls made by industry leaders during a transatlantic conference call, organised by the American Society of Travel Advisors (Asta).
Asta’s chief executive Zane Kerby said it was important for travel agency associations to “lean on our governments” to call for an easing of travel restrictions around the world.
Kerby added there should be a “dual track” approach for travellers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 who could be given “more freedom” to travel than those who remain unvaccinated.
He said many regulations were currently “too blunt of an instrument” and added governments needed to become “more sophisticated” in the rules use to manage international travel.
“You need to put a system in place that recognises vaccination and allows those who are vaccinated to travel more freely,” said Kerby.
The session also featured leading figures from other trade associations including Abta and the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (Ectaa).
Abta’s Graeme Buck said there needed to be “a bit of kickstart to move away from this quite cautious approach” by governments.
“The more consistency you can have across borders, the more consumer confidence you are likely to get,” he added. “The easier it is to understand, the less off-putting it will be to travel.”
Eric Dresin, secretary general of Ectaa, said the European industry had seen some recovery this summer – mostly in domestic and continental travel as holidaymakers jumped into their cars instead of onboard aircraft.
“There have been a lot of last-minute bookings – this ever-changing pattern [of travel rules] makes it very difficult for people to plan their holidays.”