London, United Kingdom, February 22, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has sent an open letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling for his leadership ahead of next week’s announcement, urging him to support its recovery plan and provide evidence of a clear exit strategy, to save the besieged UK Travel & Tourism sector.
The WTTC letter referred to its four key principles to safely restore international mobility including an international coordinated approach, led by the UK, with public and private collaboration, to establish an international mobility framework to allow the safe movement of people, and remove restrictions such as blanket and hotel quarantines.
It went on to urge the UK government to move from risk assessments based on countries to individual travellers, through a robust and comprehensive testing regime supported by technology and digital health passes; to reinforce health and hygiene protocols including mandatory mask wearing, in addition to the vaccination rollout, as part of an integral solution; and 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 post-Brexit, putting the UK in a competitive disadvantage, should this policy continue.
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 aid 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 governments leadership 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 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 entire countries to individual travellers’ risk assessment, irrespective of which country people are travelling from, using the UK’s leading practices in technologies in border control, and implement a comprehensive testing regime on 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.”
The four key principles are based on WTTC’s global view and assessment of best practices around the world, in order to save thousands of travel businesses and SME’s across the ecosystem that depend on our sector, and the many millions of livelihoods at risk.
Together, WTTC says these four principles will help restore a sector which will be key to aiding economic recovery and saving thousands of jobs, and many more livelihoods throughout the country; and enable the UK government to build back a better Britain.
WTTC believes that only these actions will save Travel & Tourism, while effectively managing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting public health.
WTTC, which has been at the forefront in leading the private sector in the efforts to restore international travel and rebuild global consumer confidence, applauded Boris Johnson, and his government for its world leading vaccine rollout, and the recently implemented targeted testing programme, to stop the spread of the virus.