Public and private sectors back global tourism recovery

Industry leaders leaders from 95 countries have commited to international protocols for Covid-19 testing on departure, travel corridors and contact tracing.

More than 100 companies made the declaration at a hybrid conference hosted by the Spanish government and the World Travel & Tourism Council in La Palma in the Canary Islands.

UK tourism minister Nigel Huddleston participated alongside Spanish industry, trade and tourism minister Reyes Maroto, who committed billions of euros to support the country’s tourism sector.

She said Spain had pioneered the approval of air corridors and pre-travel diagnostic tests as an alternative to quarantines and travel restrictions to ensure the restart of safe international travel.

Maroto stressed that the tourism sector was a priority and that  necessary resources will be allocated for its transformation.

“We want Spain to remain the most competitive country in the world in terms of tourism and for this we will mobilise more than €3.4 billion over the next three years in transformative projects, that make tourism a more sustainable, digital, accessible and inclusive sector,” she added.

“It is essential to have a co-ordinated international response that allows international travel to be restarted in a safe and viable manner, as this will allow the travel and tourism sector to recover more quickly.”

The so-called ‘La Palma Declaration’ calls for the adoption of international protocols for Covid-19 tests prior departure, and acceptance of results on arrival.

Such health control measures will allow shorter quarantine periods when returning to the country of origin, or could lead to the complete elimination of self-isolation.

The declaration also proposes international travel corridors to allow the return travel between countries or cities in similar epidemiological states.

Travel firms must also ensure flexible bookings, payment terms, or changes due to positive virus tests or offer affordable or higher value offerings to incentivise domestic and international travel.

Business models should be adjusted to the new global situation and new products deveoped to drive travel and tourism as well as training on the digital skills needed to adapt to the “new normal”.

A more inclusive and resilient industry will also be promoted by strengthening sustainability practices in tourism.

Tui chief executive Fritz Joussen and Expedia Group senior vice-president Jean-Philippe Monod were among those involved alongside Iata director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac.

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez reiterated his commitment to the sector and said: “The priority is to make it possible to restart international travel, and to do so, we must use new tools available, such as more accessible and reliable diagnostic tests, so that international travel ensures safety.”

The crisis must be turned into an opportunity to modernise the international tourism sector and make it more inclusive, accessible, sustainable and to spread wealth better.

WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said it was the first time that the public and private sectors have committed to working together for the recovery of global tourism.

“This is an historic meeting and will be fundamental to restarting international travel through close collaboration that will result in the implementation of key measures that will be necessary to recovery millions of jobs,” she added.

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