Border closures could jeopardise Covid-19 recovery

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned governments around the world that further country-wide border closures could seriously jeopardise the global economic recovery.

The WTTC is urging authorities to take a more carefully calibrated approach and introduce localised measures, and only when necessary. This would avoid blanket restrictions, prevent stalling the fragile economic recovery and not cripple the already bruised and battered travel sector.

WTTC would support the opening of city to city ‘air corridors’ between global financial centres, such as London, Frankfurt and New York. This would help restart business travel, which is crucial to kickstarting the economic recovery.

With a number of countries around the world experiencing local coronavirus spikes, governments are now having to consider reintroducing tough new ‘anti-travel’ measures, such as the UK government’s introduction of a 14-day quarantine for those visiting Spain.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, said: “Governments should not close off access to other countries in their entirety. Only regional border measures should be imposed if essential, so that the recovery of a country’s whole economy is not jeopardised in future.

“The establishment of ‘air corridors’ between financial centres where infection levels are low, such as between London and New York, would provide a vital boost to business travel and aid the economic recovery.

“Enforcing country-wide restrictions is a blunt instrument which benefits no one; neither travellers, the local population, the economy or the travel and tourism sector which has been left reeling from the impact of worldwide travel restrictions.

“Such measures could undo the significant efforts to revive travel and tourism, which has recently shown encouraging signs of emerging from the worst of the pandemic, and which in turn has brought hope to millions of people around the world who depend upon the sector for their livelihoods.

“Taking a more carefully calibrated approach to strategically combating coronavirus spikes with local measures rather than country-wide closures, will contain Covid-19 and preserve a country’s attempt to kick-start their economy by continuing to attract travellers to unaffected areas.

“It is perfectly possible to fight COVID-19 and support the economic recovery through the travel and tourism sector at the same time. We urge governments to consider only local lockdowns as the key to opening the door to a successful way forward.”

Restoring business travel, especially via transatlantic flights, is key to help kickstart the economic recovery. WTTC research shows that for two of the world’s top business centres, business travellers account for one US dollar in every three spent in New York and one pound sterling out of every four spent in London.

WTTC has also called for more consistent Covid-19 travel rules to be adopted by European countries to counter confusion by travellers and holidaymakers who faced a baffling array of different types of travel rules advice.