The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has laid out its new “Safe and Seamless Travel” guidelines, including testing and tracing, following medical evidence, to ensure people can enjoy “Safe Travels” in the “new normal.” The guidelines will ensure that the travel sector is provided with an extensive framework to help governments and private business work in collaboration to create aligned testing and contact tracing programs.
The initiative is part of the WTTC’s “Safe and Seamless Traveler Journey” (SSTJ) and includes systematic biometric verified identification during the journey for long-haul and international travel, replacing manual verifications. Additional use of contactless technology includes biometrics, faster clearance for inbound and outbound passengers and offsite processing as part of enhanced SSTJ capabilities which helps to reduce transmission.
Since 80 percent of COVID-19 carriers are asymptomatic according to medical experts, testing and tracing becomes crucial to control and reduce the transmission.
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The new guidelines were produced in consultation with various stakeholders, including WTTC members, health experts and government officials, and according to World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) Take Off guidance.
The resulting principles and recommendations of the new guideline frameworks will help governments who require testing, tracing, receipt of a traveler test/vaccination certificate and COVID-19 specific traveler health insurance to include them as part of their overall recovery plan.
WTTC identified five calls to action to governments during the COVID-19 recovery.
- Support quick and reliable tests as a critical path to ensure public health and a rapid testing and contact tracing strategy to help contain the spread of the virus
- Multilateral collaboration and adherence to internationally recognized guidelines to enable “approved travelers” to travel across to multiple destinations using a single process and risk assessment framework
- Support travel “bubbles” or “tourism corridors” between low-risk COVID-19 areas/zones or countries based on recognized criteria on what constitutes low, medium and high risk and where the origin government and the destination government agree; these bubbles and corridors may help to limit testing requirements for travelers and support the recovery
- Remove blanket travel advisories and recommendations against non-essential international travel as this prevents insurance protection for travelers, as countries re-open
- Support a global standard of traveler health insurance, or at least minimum requirements, defined with private sector insurance companies
This latest WTTC initiative comes on the back of a series of measures designed to rebuild global consumer confidence and encourage the return of “Safe Travels.”