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WTTC calls on UK to kick start travel recovery with rapid testing

By Edward Robertson

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is calling on the UK to introduce rapid testing at departure airports in order to unlock international travel.

The council noted the effectiveness of the UK’s vaccination programme, but added the travel industry can’t wait for every member of the adult population to be vaccinated before the resumption of international travel.

Instead, it has urged the government’s Global Travel Taskforce to focus on a combination of vaccines, testing, digital health passes and health and safety protocols, such as mandatory face mask wearing, as the way to unlocking the door to travel.

And the WTTC also highlighted IATA’s new research showing the effectiveness of rapid antigen tests which are 60 per cent cheaper than PCR tests.

It added it is vital for destinations that visitors start to return to help the local communities and said it has been working with the UK government to try and agree a road map to recovery.

WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said: “We have no doubt that the government understands the critical importance of providing a clear road map for the struggling travel and tourism sector to find its way back to operating fully and, essentially, profitability.

“The UK government should take advantage of its incredible vaccine rollout and enable the resumption of safe international travel through a comprehensive testing programme for non-vaccinated Brits and importantly, in time for the all-important summer season.

“We must allow the travel and tourism sector to take full advantage of the peak summer season to enable it to recoup as much as it can from the return of safe international travel.

“We have been encouraged that the government is at last listening to the sector and hope that the Global Travel Task Force will clearly and unambiguously lay out exactly what travel will look like in their phased rollout from 17 May.

“It’s vital that the sector, business travellers and holidaymakers all understand what will happen and when so they can clearly plan and prepare for the return of travel.

“We believe a combination of vaccines, testing, digital health passes and health and safety protocols, including mandatory face mask wearing, will unlock travel.

“Travel and tourism is a powerhouse waiting to jumpstart the world economic recovery.”

Last week, the World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) revealed the full crippling impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global travel and tourism sector which last year suffered a catastrophic loss of more than $4 billion.

The annual research showed the sector’s contribution to GDP dropped a staggering 49.1 per cent, as the sector struggled to survive in the face of crippling travel restrictions and unnecessary quarantines.