Governments must invest in ensuring airports implement "comprehensive" pre- and post-flight Covid testing in lieu of "blunt quarantine" measures to allow travel to resume safely, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has urged.
The WTTC said a repeat of Spain’s travel corridor debacle – which saw the government end quarantine-free travel between the UK and Spain at the weekend, just three weeks after it was restored – risked causing "irreparable damage" to the travel and tourism sector.
“WTTC is calling on governments around the world to begin a substantial programme of investment to ensure comprehensive testing facilities are implemented at airports, which will help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and see the return of safe travels," said WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara.
“It is imperative all airports catering for international travel implement globally recognised testing standards for both inbound and outbound passengers. This will provide reassurance to all travellers, maintain ’air corridors’ between countries, and remove damage and disruption caused by blunt quarantines, which massively impact the recovery of the travel and tourism sector."
Guevara said removing Spain from the UK’s travel corridor list in its entirety "risked causing irreparable damage to the travel and tourism sector". "It also makes no sense," said Guevara. "While Spain as a whole, and Catalonia in particular, has a higher rate of coronavirus cases than then UK, the rate in Andalucia, the Balearics and Canaries is actually lower than the UK."
On the WTTC’s vision for a testing regime, Guevara said: “As part of the screening process, testing must involve temperature checks and swab tests for all arriving and departing passengers with results back within 24 hours.
"Only those testing positive – with or without symptoms – should be put into quarantine. Where there are apps to assist in effective test and rrace regimes, passengers must be advised to sign up and use them."
Guevara added: “We are going to have to live with Covid-19 for the foreseeable future so we must do all we can to protect public health and save lives, while restoring consumer confidence, driving the global economic recovery, and saving the jobs of millions of people whose very livelihoods depend upon a thriving travel and tourism sector.”