The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has urgently called on the UK government for strong leadership and unprecedented international collaboration, to save the struggling Travel & Tourism sector and recover the millions of jobs already impacted.
Over 100 of the world’s major travel and global business leaders, from major airlines, airports, hotels, tour operators and travel companies, have backed the unprecedented move.
The industry leaders signed and sent the letter, which called for urgent coordinated action, to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and six other Heads of State of the G7* group of countries, as well as Australia, South Korea and Spain, the world’s major source markets.
The letter called on the UK’s leadership during these critical times and was also sent to Keir Starmer and other such international opposition leaders, highlighting the non-partisan nature of the crisis.
WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, says political leaders of these major powers must step forward to save the global economy, and support the recovery of the hundreds of millions of jobs already impacted.
If the global leaders fail to come together, WTTC anticipates irreversible damage to the Travel & Tourism sector. Furthermore, as the crippling travel restrictions remain in place, the number of jobs losses around the world will continue to increase.
According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019, Travel & Tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million total), making a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generating one in four of all new jobs. Moreover, it is one of the most diverse sectors, employing people from all socio-economic backgrounds regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, and includes 53% women and 30% youth employed across the sector.
Despite Travel & Tourism’s crucial importance to the local and global economies, WTTC is gravely concerned there is no clear or internationally coordinated effort to protect this uniquely exposed sector.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “As the Travel & Tourism sector buckles under mounting pressure, and the global economy struggles to survive, we have to ask – who is in charge of getting us out of this crisis and will lead the world to save the jobs and secure the futures of the many millions of people globally?
“We have reached a stage where critical action is urgently needed. While we recognise each country must protect their own citizens and the priority to date has been domestic matters, any measures taken in silos moving forward will only worsen the plight of millions of ordinary people.
“We need to transcend politics and put the millions of livelihoods, which have been affected by COVID-19, front and centre. From cabin crew to hotel staff, travel agents to call centre agents, waiters to housekeepers, receptionists to drivers, hotel managers to chefs, and the many more unsung heroes who depend on a thriving Travel & Tourism sector.
“The voices of ordinary people must be heard, and we are calling on them to let world leaders know, in no uncertain terms, that the time for action is now.
“This is not a binary solution or a choice between health on the one hand, and jobs, the economy and travel on the other. We can make strong progress on all these fronts if we follow the expert advice from science and learn from the past and positive experiences of others.
“WTTC and the other signatories of the letter, sent to the leaders of the world, are committed to working together to help resolve the worst crisis of our generation, and bring back the millions of jobs impacted. However, the private sector cannot do this alone.
“History teaches us the road the recovery can be either long and painful, or shorter and less devastating. During the 2008 financial crisis, strong global leadership, and public-private collaboration, enabled us to recover in shorter timeframe. We cannot see the same collaboration amongst today’s leaders. We must restore the confidence to travel and put our people back to work to rebuild the global economy.
“It is vital that the leaders of these countries come together and prioritise rescuing the world from this unprecedented crisis, by acting in an effective and coordinated way to bring back more than 120 million jobs and livelihoods affected.”
In the letter, WTTC has identified four measures which need concerted international framework and leadership to combat the coronavirus:
- Wearing a mask: This should be mandatory on all modes of transport throughout the entire traveller journey, as well as when visiting any interior venue and in locations where there is restricted movement which results in close personal contact and required physical distancing cannot be maintained. According to medical evidence, such measures can reduce the risk of the spread by up to 92%.
- Testing and contact tracing:We need governments to invest and agree on extensive, rapid, and reliable testing, ideally with results available in as quick as 90 minutes, and at a low cost, before departure and/ or after arrival (symptomatic and asymptomatic would-be travellers), supported by effective and agreed contact tracing tools. The application of one or multiple tests, with the second after five days, will help to isolate infected people.
- Quarantine for positive tests only: Quarantine for healthy travellers, which only serves to damage the economy, should not be necessary if testing is in place before departure and/or on arrival, and effective containment measures are taken five days later. This can replace blanket quarantine in a more targeted and effective way significantly reducing the negative impact on jobs and the economy.
- Reinforcing global protocols and standardise measures: The adoption of global health and safety protocols will help rebuild traveller confidence and ensure a consistent, coordinated and aligned approach of the travel experience in addition to significantly reducing the risk of infection. We also support the Public Health Corridor Concept which promotes a clean and safe end-to-end journey.
WTTC research has shown that even a modest resumption of travelling can have massive economic benefits and bring thousands of desperately needed jobs back; providing a critical boost for the struggling Travel & Tourism sector and generating desperately needed GDP for economies left floundering after being struck by the pandemic.