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Wed, 5 August 2020

WTTC: Nearly Three Million Travel & Tourism Jobs in UK at Risk

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), nearly three million jobs in the travel and tourism sector in the UK, and 197 million globally, look set to be lost due to the impact that the ongoing COVID19 pandemic is having on travel.

WTTC economic modelling conducted less than two months ago predicted this ‘worst case scenario’ would occur if barriers to global travel, such as quarantine measures and blanket travel restrictions were to remain in place.

While some travel bans have been removed, many others remain, with new restrictions likely to come into force to tackle the continuing threat posed by COVID19 and possible new spikes.

However, the confusing patchwork of bans, quarantines and uncoordinated international testing and tracing measures, have deterred many people from travelling at all with the peak summer 2020 travel season all but being wiped out.

Marlow, England in 2016. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

Travel to Spain was thrown into chaos when the UK government changed its travel advice to re-impose a 14-day quarantine period for people arriving back in the UK. This countrywide ‘travel ban’ came despite parts of Spain, such as Andalucia, the Balearics and Canaries having a lower COVID19 infection rate than the UK.

WTTC estimates the UK now looks close to losing a staggering $186 billion from the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to UK GDP, equating to a 73% percent drop compared with 2019.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said, “It’s heartbreaking to see our worst fears for the UK and global travel and tourism sector coming true. The jobs and livelihoods of millions of people who work throughout the sector are disappearing by the day, despite our warning this could happen. While we acknowledge the UK government’s efforts to support travel and tourism during this crisis, the UK alone looks set to lose three million jobs in the sector, creating an economic black hole of US$186 billion in the country’s finances. This is due to an international failure to implement proper coordination to combat the pandemic.

“However, we still have time to turn this around if we act together now as one and replace ineffective quarantines with comprehensive rapid testing, a worldwide accepted standard of contact tracing and widespread face mask usage. Employing the latest technology, combined with mass adoption of protective face coverings, will help restore confidence to the traveller. Governments around the world must align their policies and work hand in hand with the private sector to revive travel and tourism, so we can restore jobs and help revive the global economy. We strongly believe that by working as one we can beat COVID19 and return to safe travels with world class standards of hygiene to travellers and regenerate the jobs and livelihoods of the 300 million people who worked in the sector before COVID19. That is a much more cost effective and efficient option which will alleviate the terrible economic impact of mass unemployment.”

The WTTC claims that there is ample evidence from other countries which suggests only those who test positive should be quarantined. The council believes the implementation of a rapid test and trace strategy is a critical step to help contain the spread of the virus, while still allowing people to travel responsibly and encouraging greater and sustained collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure a standardised, global approach to the crisis.

On 30 July, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that each country should conduct a risk-benefit analysis and decide on its priorities.

The decision process should include an analysis of the situation, taking into account the local context in countries of departure and destination. The WHO recommends that the following factors should be considered: local epidemiology and transmission patterns, the national public health and social measures for controlling the outbreaks in both departure and in destination countries; public health and health service capacity at national and subnational levels to manage suspect and confirmed cases among travellers, including at points of entry (ports, airports, ground crossings) to mitigate and manage the risk of importation or exportation of the disease; and the evolving knowledge about COVID19 transmission and its clinical features.

Any subsequent measure must be proportionate to public health risks and should be adjusted based on a risk assessment, conducted regularly and systematically as the COVID19 situation evolves and communicated regularly to the public.

The WHO also recommends that priority should be given to essential travel for emergencies, humanitarian actions (including emergency medical flights and medical evacuation), travel of essential personnel (including emergency responders and providers of public health technical support, critical personnel in transport sector such as seafarers and diplomatic officers), and repatriation. Cargo transport should also be prioritized for essential medical, food and energy supplies.

Sick travellers and persons at risk, including elderly travellers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions, should delay or avoid travelling internationally to and from areas with community transmission.

The WHO has repeatedly said that there is no “zero risk” when considering the potential importation or exportation of cases in the context of international travel. Therefore, thorough and continuous risk assessment and management will help identify, reduce and mitigate those risks, while balancing the socio-economic consequences of travel measures, or temporary restrictions, against potential adverse public health consequences.

According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019, travel and tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million in total), making a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generating one in four of all new jobs.

See also: Airports, Air Travel and COVID19 - Exclusive Interview with SITA's President of Asia Pacific, Sumesh Patel.

See latest Travel News, Video Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: COVID19, WTTC, England, Conwy, Wales, Marlow.

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