The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has sent an open letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to support its recovery plan and provide evidence of a clear exit strategy to save the besieged UK Travel & Tourism sector.
It comes ahead of the Prime Minister’s expected announcement on Monday about a roadmap out of lockdown and for lifting restrictions.
The WTTC letter lays out four key principles needed to safely restore international mobility. Firstly, an international coordinated approach led by the UK with public and private collaboration, to establish an international mobility framework which allows for the safe movement of people and removes restrictions such as blanket and hotel quarantines.
Secondly, it urges the UK government to move from risk assessments based on countries to risk based on individual travellers; thirdly, to reinforce health and hygiene protocols including mandatory mask wearing, in addition to the vaccination rollout; and fourthly, to provide a major government support package for the Travel & Tourism sector.
Following extensive consultation with WTTC Members and governments around the world, WTTC also made clear there was strong and determined opposition to air corridors and that the UK could be in danger of ‘burning bridges’ with overseas governments looking to agree trade and other deals in the post-Brexit era, putting the UK at a competitive disadvantage.
WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report shows that in 2019, Travel & Tourism generated £200 billion or 9% of the UK’s GDP. It was responsible for almost four million jobs, or 11% of the country’s total workforce, hence its importance to boost economic recovery.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “While we applaud the government’s incredible progress on the rollout of vaccines to combat the virus, the Travel & Tourism sector is still massively exposed to the terrible impact of anti-COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“That is why we are calling on the UK government to take urgent action to support the sector, without which we fear Travel & Tourism in the UK could face complete collapse.
“We have laid out a pathway using four clear principles for the government to navigate the Travel & Tourism sector out the lockdown, and back to powering the UK economic revival.
“Our Members and overseas governments believe that air corridors should not be reinstated, as they could put in jeopardy relationships with overseas governments who are looking to agree trade and other deals in the post-Brexit period.
“We know from extensive consultation with WTTC Members and governments around the world that there is strong and determined opposition to air corridors.
“They are not the answer and have created great uncertainty for countries, consumers, airlines and travel agents up and down the country, causing more problems than they have offered solutions.
“The way to save Travel & Tourism, while avoiding importing and exporting the virus, is to shift the focus from a risk assessment based on entire countries to one based on individual travellers and implement a comprehensive testing regime upon arrival and departure, which is less destructive and disruptive to the economy than blanket quarantines.
“What is very clear from all we have experienced in the past 12 months, is that we will not see a complete return to pre-pandemic days.
“We will have to adapt to coexist with the virus and the future of Travel & Tourism will see the widespread use of digital and biometric technology, alongside mask wearing and hygiene protocols, to create a touchless and seamless travel experience.”