Blanket travel bans – such as those currently being imposed on the UK – are “counterproductive” and will “seriously delay” global economic recovery, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has argued.
In a statement released on Tuesday (22 December), as around 50 countries worldwide imposed entry restrictions on Britain, WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said such policies “cannot be the answer”, adding: “They have not worked in the past and they will not work now.”
“If a comprehensive and quick turnaround testing regime were in place at airports across the country to test all travellers before they depart, it would ensure only those infected with Covid-19 are isolated and are prevented from travelling. There would be no need for countries to introduce damaging and counterproductive wholesale bans on UK travellers,” she said.
“People should not be deterred from travelling because they simply can’t find or arrange to get tested at a local testing centre or lab. We need to make it much easier for travellers to get a test prior to their journey.”
Guevara argued that travellers pose “no higher risk than other members of the community” if they follow all internationally recognised health safety protocols, including wearing masks and regular testing.
She stressed that while the WTTC understood government’s concerns to curb the spread of Covid, the growing number of “blunt” travel bans are “disruptive and economically damaging”.
“We should not underestimate the terrible social impact of increasing isolation and its effect on mental health.
Every sector of the economy, not just travel and tourism, will suffer – as will those countries imposing the ban as their own economies feel the impact of border closures and the loss of business.
“The travel and tourism sector will be critical to powering the economic recovery, which is why it is absolutely crucial that action must be taken now to save it. If not, it will collapse, and millions of people will lose their jobs.”