Travel is not the driving force behind Covid-19, so shutting borders is not the answer, according to the boss of escorted touring specialist Trafalgar.

Giving the keynote speech at this week’s Atas Virtual Week, run by the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers (Atas), Gavin Tollman said governments needed better collaboration and enforcement of rules to allow people to move around the world safely.

“It is immensely frustrating because, as an industry, we have really gone out of our way to ensure that, when people can travel, we’ve thought through the protocols that will look after them,” he said.

“Travel is not the driving force behind [the spread of Covid] because no-one’s been traveling. Barely anyone has been travelling and yet we are still sitting here with these ongoing waves. So shutting borders and stopping anyone coming in is not the underlying factor. It’s ‘what are the government’s doing in country?’”.


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Tollman said he had been involved in the creation of new protocols with the World Travel & Tourism Council, “to ensure that we were a partner in helping define what was needed”.

He added: “It’s so simple. We need to take personal responsibility for ourselves. And we need a clear direction from governments. So wearing a mask should not be a weapon, right? Wearing a mask should be a given, so you can go out there and you don’t need to worry about spreading anything.

“Number two is social distancing, so that you are not immediately and in close proximity to someone else. And third of all, wash your hands. How hard is that? But what I find frustrating is that these things would take us so far along, and I don’t understand why governments don’t just legislate it, just make it happen?”

Tollman cited how governments across the world had collaborated and clamped down after 9/11.

“Post 9/11, governments got together and said, look, we’ve got a threat of terrorism, you’re going to have to get to the airport earlier, you’re going to go through more security, you’re going to have to take your laptop out of your bag.

“Can you imagine if you showed up at the airport and said, ‘no, it’s my personal right and my own liberty to keep my laptop in my bag.’ You know what they will tell you to go do,” he said.

Tollman added: “Why are we even having this conversation? You have this underlying demand for people to travel as soon as restrictions are lifted. They want to go, they want to get out, but are restrained. All we need is common-sensical public health measures and safety precautions that all of us can live with. Just give us the bloody rules, right, so we can all get on with it. As an industry, we’ve defined them.”