The body that represents the global private sector of travel and tourism, has issued a warning about the concerns that tourists face when they are rejected at the borders because countries do not have a common list of internationally recognized and approved COVID-19 vaccines
The restart of international travel could be seriously delayed without global reciprocal recognition of all approved COVID-19 vaccines, says the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
The world tourism body, which represents the global private travel and tourism sector, has issued its warning following concerns tourists face being turned away at borders because countries do not have a common list of recognized COVID-19 vaccines and internationally approved.
This comes just days after several British tourists, who had been administered the Indian Covishield batch of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, were refused entry to Malta despite the fact that the drug was chemically identical to the manufactured vaccine. in the United Kingdom.
In recent weeks, reports of tourists facing barriers to entry have been on the rise, with some even being prevented from boarding their flights to destinations.
WTTC believes that, once again, the lack of international coordination to agree on a list of approved vaccines is creating another major obstacle to restarting international travel.
This occurs despite the fact that most vaccines have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or Strict Regulatory Authorities (SRA), such as the UK Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). and the US Food and Drug Administration, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Reports that travelers are turned away because they have the ‘wrong’ vaccine batches or ‘unrecognized’ vaccines have fueled consumer concern, dissuading them from booking and thus hurting the already existing Travel & Tourism sector in difficulties.
The request for reciprocal recognition for all vaccines and vaccine batches is part of the four new WTTC guidelines that aim to safely resume international mobility and save the millions of jobs and livelihoods that depend on this sector. , while the global economic recovery gets underway.
Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President of WTTC, said: “Mutual recognition of all vaccine types and batches is essential if we are to avoid further unnecessary and disruptive delays to restart international travel.
“The failure of countries to agree on a common list of all approved and recognized vaccines is a major concern for the WTTC, as we know that every day travel is reduced, more travel and tourism companies with problems Liquidity companies face even greater stress, pushing more and more to the brink of bankruptcy.
“We can avoid this by having a fully recognized list of all approved vaccines – and vaccine batches – that should be the key to unlocking international travel, not the door to preventing it.
“It will also give tourists and travelers the confidence they need to book trips, flights and cruises, with the confidence of knowing that their full vaccination status will be recognized internationally.”
WTTC says restoring safe international travel can be accomplished by following its four guidelines.
Through a combination of COVID-19 testing, vaccination, digital health travel passes, and the use of health and safety protocols, such as the use of face masks, safe international mobility can be resumed while at the same time they can save millions of jobs and livelihoods that depend on the sector and drive global economic recovery.
Fundamental WTTC guidelines for restoring international mobility while protecting public health include:
- Appropriately reduced protocols for vaccinated travelers, including no testing or quarantine for those who are fully vaccinated. Worldwide recognition for international travel of all vaccines authorized for their use and considered safe and effective by the WHO or by the SRAs recognized by the WHO.
- A data-driven, risk-based and internationally harmonized approach to restoring freedom of movement that is consistent across countries, easy to communicate and clearly understood by travelers.
- Global adoption of ‘digital health passes’ that allow travelers to easily obtain and verify their vaccination status, negative COVID test result, or natural immunity from a previous infection. These must work with existing border control systems and travel operators accepted by all countries. Digital verification of a traveler’s COVID status before traveling will avoid long and unsafe lines at transportation hubs and terminals.
- Continuous implementation of high-quality health and safety standards in all areas of the travel and tourism sector, including the continued adoption of the WTTC Safe Travel Protocols and Safe Travel Seal, with the continued use of face masks in crowded areas and closed all forms of public transport.
WTTC advocates for the full implementation of these proportionate and responsible guidelines for travel in the coming months, as many travel restrictions begin to ease as major travel markets begin to reopen.
This occurs in the context of a successful vaccination rollout, with a subsequent decline in deaths, cases, and hospitalizations in many countries. However, the variants will continue to be a cause for concern as the world struggles to emerge from the effects of the pandemic.