How will travel ever recover, if the rules change by the day?

In a new statement, The World Travel & Tourism Council is calling upon the UK, and other countries to move toward safe and sustainable solutions to reboot travel, with measures which create layers of safety balancing health concerns, with confidence for travellers.

The WTTC believes the UK’s current stoplight travel corridor system, which saw trips to France, Netherlands and 4 other countries thrown under the bus overnight, is entirely unsustainable.

In the midnight hour, the UK added 14 day quarantine restriction to 6 countries, some of which have also been added to the Foreign Office “essential travel only” list, which invalidates travel insurance, even for those willing to cope with the 14 day quarantine.

In a condemning statement, WTTC President Gloria Guevara offfered…

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said:

“WTTC is deeply disappointed that thousands of British holidaymakers have had their holidays ruined, now the UK government has added more countries to its quarantine list, including popular summer holidays destinations, France and Malta. While we agree public health should remain the top priority, this move will crush what little confidence there is left in the fragile Travel & Tourism sector.

The UK clearly lags behind other countries, which have shunned quarantines in favour of comprehensive programmes of testing for everyone departing and arriving back into their respective countries. International coordination and programme of testing for anyone who wants to go on holiday to help stop COVID-19 in its tracks are crucial in order to rescue three million jobs in the UK alone.”Gloria Guevera, President, World Travel & Tourism Council

Travel is currently a minefield for passengers, and much of the confusion stems from ever changing and differing measures between each country.

Germany presently tests all arrivals for free, with most tests taking 10 minutes to complete formalities. France offers similar testing, as does Austria, with much of Asia now equipped to handle thousands of covid-19 tests per day, from incoming arrivals.

Meanwhile, UK Government has shunned testing of any arrivals, stating testing isn’t a “silver bullet”. At this point, many would argue there is no silver bullet with covid-19 at this point, but layers of safety matter. Despite lack of government interest, reports suggest leading UK pharmacy Boots is in final discussions with British Airways to offer comprehensive access to easy testing.

Robust testing requirements prior to travel, such as those deployed by the United Arab Emirates seem to offer a sustainable way forward, with health at the forefront, but also open borders. Passengers must schedule a recent negative covid-19 test and present a negative certificate to be allowed on board, and must also present a negative result on arrival.

Some countries, such as Sri Lanka, insist on up to 5 additional tests, with convenient testing done at hotels and other central locations 3-5 days after arrival, and during any later periods, if required.

There’s a balance to be struck, but regular testing mitigates more risk than unenforced quarantine measures, while also allowing travellers to book with confidence. Knowing a destination could go from acceptable, to unacceptable, in a matter of hours makes travel impossible for both customers and businesses.

Though that might not matter to everyone right now, it certainly will when the world emerges from the worst of covid-19, and there are no hotels or airlines left to connect the globe. A unified response and sustainable is what the WTTC is calling for, and that doesn’t necessarily mean compromised safety.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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8 Comments

  1. Hardly a surprise that the WTTC have this view.
    Interesting that France is testing all arrivals. Really? At the Eurostar terminal? At the various ferry ports? I think not.
    And this was not a last minute decision out of the blue by the UK Government.
    The media has been full of speculation for at least a week that France would be removed from air corridor status. The stats for France are published daily on the internet. The French PM even said France was going the wrong way and that tougher action would be required.
    In addition, the UK Government has made it very clear from the beginning that travelling to the corridor countries was at the traveller’s own risk.
    Additionally, there was a report about a month ago that the virus was introduced to the UK initially from Europe and the UK Government has been criticised for not instituting a NZ type of entry restriction from day one. They do not want to be held responsible for another significant increase in the infection rate because of people travelling from abroad without some attempt to control inbound infections.
    On the wider issue, airlines and the tourism industry have to accept this uncertainty will last at least until the end of the year by which time we will see if there is a second wave in Europe and if the US gets the virus under control.

      1. My commitment as you put it is to the truth. This Government has not had a successful Covid19 and genuine criticism is valid.
        But a point that is missed continually regarding international travel is that at no time has the UK closed itself to incoming travellers from any country (unlike the US, Australia, NZ, Thailand and many, many others). Initially arrivals had to follow the UK lockdown rules and as the lockdown was relaxed stage by stage quarantine was introduced to replace the “Stay At Home” message.
        No citizen or resident of the UK was banned from leaving the UK at any time.
        The UK has a very high deaths per million toll compared with Europe and most of the rest of the world (debate around who or what is to blame is valid). But now precautions are necessary to avoid a repeat. But I repeat people are able to travel into or out of the UK from anywhere in the world and have been since day one.

  2. Germany does not test all arrivals, not even all arrivals from “at risk” countries. Source: I fly here every couple of weeks.

      1. I’d suggest stating “Germany presently tests all arrivals for free” is very different to “Anyone who wants a free test is given one in a matter of minutes”. I have also heard of hours-long queues to get tests in FRA or MUC. I’m not saying the German approach is bad, but not sure how many cases it can realistically catch!

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