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Travel ‘won’t move’ until summer, ETC chief urges ‘face facts’

The head of the European Travel Commission (ETC) has criticised the “naïve hope” that travel and tourism can go on growing and warned “Covid is here to stay”.

ETC executive director Eduardo Santander said: “We don’t know what will happen. Let’s face the fact we can’t make any predictions. We can’t even rely on projections we made in 2020.”

Speaking on a webinar hosted by digital marketing platform Sojern, Santander said: “The naïve hope that we would go on continuing to grow cannot provide a solution.

“Covid is here to stay for a while. We are just trying to manage it.”

He argued: “Tourism is something certain.” When you travel on holiday, he said: “You are confident you will have a nice time. How can we provide certainties?

“Travel is safe. It’s not the problem. The problem is individual behaviour. People put themselves at risk not when they travel but when they arrive in a destination. So how do we behave if want a speedy recovery and not a delayed one?”

He insisted: “Let’s admit we won’t see a move in the [travel] data until the summer and let’s make it a safe summer and a safe winter 2021-22.

“We have to coordinate strategies and harmonise protocols, and have non-discrimination between those who are vaccinated and those who are not.”

The ETC represents national tourism organisations and travel companies in Europe.

Speaking on the same webinar, UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) director for Europe Alessandra Priante said: “We have the vaccine but the World Health Organisation tells us the vaccines are not going to address this on their own.

“Quarantines do not help any programming, any resumption. Travel and tourism needs to restart, but we are still at a point where a PCR test in Spain is not recognised in Portugal.

“We are back to the [travel] data of 1990. We need to restart. We can’t wait for much longer.”

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