A Global Travel Industry Roundtable has defined a unified roadmap with safe alternatives and specific actions to phase out the use of long-term quarantine policies and travel restrictions.
Comprising 20 major trade organisations, including the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA), of which the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) is a member, the global coalition was formed to accelerate the recovery of the travel industry by aligning global efforts behind common messaging and industry standards in collaboration with medical and policy experts.
Otto de Vries, CEO ASATA, explains that a key outcome of the roundtable was an acknowledgement that an aligned effort is required to find the pathway to reopen all forms of travel, safely and responsibly, as well as to share ideas and information to stem the impact the global COVID-19 pandemic has had on travel and traveller confidence.
“This strategic roadmap to open borders for unrestricted and safe international travel has been developed with leading world health organisations to develop global standards for the reduction of and eventual elimination of quarantine requirements and travel restrictions,” says de Vries.
Included in these are the expanded use of safe travel alternatives such as use of masks, social distancing, global testing standards, use of an interoperable health pass, and other established protocols such as travel corridors.
“While the goal is to have global standards, individual countries and regions should have sufficient leeway to make appropriate adjustments based on their unique market conditions,” adds de Vries.
Among the actions outlined by the Global Travel Industry Roundtable are:
- Petition policy makers to modify quarantine measures to be implemented for recipients of positive COVID tests only.
- Develop recommended framework of global standards with specific measurements for LOW-MEDIUM-HIGH levels of travel-related risk (separate from destination or individual behavior risk). This includes specific recommendations for vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals.
- Leverage the success of existing air corridors (e.g., Atlanta-Rome) and petition additional markets for expansion.
- Mandate consistent global standards for health and hygiene protocols to help rebuild traveller confidence and ensure a consistent approach of the travel experience in addition to reducing the risk of infection.
- Create an international contact tracing standard with harmonised data for private sector to be able to track and support.
- Design, fund and implement an international testing protocol and a coordinated framework for testing before departure using fast, efficient, and affordable tests to reduce dependency on the future use of quarantines.
While the travel industry has taken responsibility for the safety of travellers by putting in place a safe global travel system, industry recommends travellers get vaccinated and take personal safety measures to protect each other so that travel can return with peace of mind. “We have to shift away from the current binary guidance system of travel or don’t travel instituted by global health authorities as it does not work. We need a fact-based system of travel health risk measurement to communicate with travellers and quarantine those who test positive, not everyone who travels by region or country,” concludes de Vries.