March 11, 2021

Saving soldier travel

WTTC leads the charge in fighting for the tourism sector

In times that are so challenging and complicated, full of uncertainty, the World Travel and Tourism Council has been toiling to seek a “light at the end of the tunnel”. We asked Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, what her current thoughts are on the situation.

We are very optimistic. If you had asked me that question a few months ago, the answer might have been different. The reason is that last year was totally unprecedented. We estimate 174 million jobs have been impacted globally. When I say impacted, it’s a combination of people having been let go or dismissed or made redundant. We have tried to estimate how many jobs we can bring back this year, and that’s between 88 And 111 million, which is an average of 100, but we have been saying that some conditions need to be in place.

As we see the aggressive rollout of vaccines in different parts of the world, we believe it is a great part of the solution, but it’s not the only solution.

Once a country has vaccinated a large proportion of the senior population, mortality rates will drop, consequently reducing the pressure on hospitals. But it’s very important to continue not only to vaccinate, but also with the rest: wearing the masks, testing and so on… and all this will help us resume international mobility.

We see a light at the end of the tunnel and we believe that very shortly we will see a great deal of progress, but right now I feel like we’re still in the middle of the storm in many countries

Right now, the question is, “How do we bring back mobility in a safe, secure, and responsible way that will allow us to restore the economy and bring back the millions of jobs that have been impacted?” So, yes, we see a light at the end of the tunnel and we believe that very shortly we will see a great deal of progress, but right now I feel like we’re still in the middle of the storm in many countries.

So, what should governments be doing that they’re not doing well today?
I think governments need to do two things. One is that they should figure out how to share more. Share knowledge, share basic experiences and share data. I understand that we didn’t have the right platforms for that before, and there was some lack of trust in some international organisations, but we need to get over that. The second thing is for them to get to the point where they understand that this is not going away. We need to coexist with this virus, and if they think we’re going to go back to 2019, that’s not the case. We need to look forward. How do we make this crisis an opportunity, and how do we resume travel mobility, bring back those jobs? In order for us to be able to do that, we need to have the right policies and the right protocols from governments. We need to have that understanding. Right now, there is still uncertainty, and part of that uncertainty has been created because of the lack of coordination.

For instance, I wish an understanding or agreement could be found where it’s clear what one needs to do to move from one country to another, because people of course don’t want to be stuck in foreign countries. We would thus like to see an agreement on collaboration between governments so that we can resume mobility in a safe manner and make it effective, to have some certainty that would allow us to resume international travel.

How do we make this crisis an opportunity, and how do we resume travel mobility, bring back those jobs?

How essential will vaccination passports become over the next year?
We are not in favour of vaccination passports, so much as “health” passes, as we believe that vaccination of everyone in the world is going to take years. However, we believe that the aggressive role out of vaccines is going to help and is part of the solution. The challenge in our mind is “How do you make the invisible visible?”

How do you do risk assessment based on the individual and not based on the country? The answer is “Testing, testing, testing”. Since April last year, we have been insisting that testing should be included in the journey, supported by contact tracing and technology. That’s why health pass apps are important.

The technology, the apps, create a seamless experience. As I said, we need multiple components as part of the solution: testing, contact tracing and health apps. Then of course you have the vaccination roll-out. You need to have all these pieces to create the whole solution.

Saving soldier travel

WTTC calls on EU leadership to “save the sector”

At this month’s EU Tourism Ministers Meeting, the World Travel & Tourism Council called on leadership from the EU to save the Travel & Tourism sector which has been left in ruin by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the critical meeting, Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “We have one single request: we need to see the restoration of international mobility. We need clear rules for mobility. Europe must define protocols, so it’s clear how mobility can be safely resumed within the EU, to the EU and from the EU. We must replace ineffective quarantines and move from a country-based assessment to individual based assessment. Not entire populations are infected, and we must not treat them as such.”

Saving soldier travel
Screen shot – EU Ministers Meeting

Not to be missed

Today, Thursday, 11 March 2021
Gloria Guevara will be a panellist in the ITB Resilience Roundtable (with Jacobs Media and the Resilience Council)
ITB Berlin NOW Convention Stage 1

Photo: Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO