WTTC: border closures could seriously delay global economic recovery

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned governments around the world that further border closures could seriously jeopardize global economic recovery.

The WTTC is urging authorities to take a more carefully calibrated approach and introduce localized measures, and only when necessary.

This would avoid widespread restrictions, prevent stagnation of the fragile economic recovery and not cripple the already bruised and battered travel and tourism sector.

Photo: Glenn

The WTTC would support the opening of city-to-city “air corridors” between the world’s financial centres, such as London and Frankfurt and New York. This would help restart the business travel that is crucial to start the economic recovery.

Unfortunately, a number of countries around the world are experiencing local coronavirus spikes. This is forcing several governments to rethink the possibility of reintroducing new harsh and undesirable “anti-travel” measures.

According to the latest statistics from Johns Hopkins University in the United States, the number of deaths from COVID-19 worldwide has exceeded 606,000, while the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has already exceeded 14.5 million.

Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the WTTC, said: “Governments should not close off access to other countries altogether. Regional border measures should only be imposed if they are essential, so that the recovery of a country’s entire economy is not compromised in the future.

“Establishing ‘air corridors’ between financial centres where infection levels are low, such as between London and New York, would give a vital boost to business travel and help economic recovery.

“Nationwide restrictions are a blunt instrument that benefit no one – not the travelers, not the local population, not the economy, not the travel and tourism sector, which has been affected by travel restrictions around the world.

“These measures could reverse the significant efforts to revive the travel and tourism sector, which has recently shown encouraging signs of emerging from the worst of the pandemic and which, in turn, has given hope to millions of people around the world who depend on the sector for their livelihoods.

“Adopting a more carefully calibrated approach to strategically combat the peaks of the coronavirus with local measures, rather than nationwide closures, will contain COVID-19 and preserve a country’s attempt to revive its economy by continuing to attract travelers to unaffected areas.

“Tourism is key to driving that economic recovery, as one in four new jobs were created last year. Our 2020 Economic Impact Report shows that by 2019 the sector supported one in 10 of all jobs (330 million in total) and made a massive contribution of 10.3% to global GDP.

“It is perfectly possible to fight COVID-19 and support economic recovery through the travel and tourism sector at the same time. We urge governments to consider only local closures as the key to opening the door to a successful path.

Restoring business travel, especially through transatlantic flights, is key to helping drive economic recovery. WTTC research shows that for two of the world’s major business centers, business travelers account for one U.S. dollar out of every three spent in New York and one British pound out of every four spent in London.

The WTTC has also called for European countries to adopt more consistent COVID-19 travel rules to counter the confusion of travelers and vacationers who are faced with a bewildering array of travel rule advice.

The organization has been concerned that COVID-19’s patchwork of national border restrictions would deter travelers and suppress the resurgence of the travel and tourism industry. However, by learning from the response to previous pandemic outbreaks, governments could avoid delaying much-needed economic recovery.

However, the WTTC warned that unless European governments make a greater effort to align their policies, the fragile recovery will falter and slow down, putting 16 million jobs in the travel and tourism sector at risk.

Author: Smart Travel