Global travel agency associations call on states to avoid border closures

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Global travel agency associations call on states to avoid border closures
Source: Twitter @IATA
December 13, 2021

Entities around the globe call on government leaders to accelerate the lifting of restrictions

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), the Association of South African Travel Agents (ASATA), the Association of Canadian Travel Agents (ACTA), the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the Travel Agents and European Tour Operators (ECTAA) and the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA), which collectively represent the hundreds of thousands of people who work in travel agencies and related businesses around the world, ask government leaders from around the world to speed up the uprising of all countries and regions - specific travel bans.  

When elected officials make public policy decisions in the interest of public health, those governments have an obligation to provide financial resources to the industries and individuals most affected by their decisions. Closing borders and implementing new restrictions affects countless millions of employees in the travel and tourism industry. It also puts already vulnerable businesses at greater risk of recovery, while government revenues continue to erode due to the loss of economic activity in the industry, which accounts for one in ten jobs globally according to the World Travel Council. and Tourism.

Recent and stricter border closures have severely affected already complex international travel. We collectively call on world government leaders to follow the best available science in determining measures at the border, including tests and bans. Many countries follow strict biosecurity protocols, including masking, social distancing, and vaccination requirements. The addition of new border measures has significant economic impacts on travel and tourism businesses that may not add additional protection to the community. It is essential that government policy is guided by science, not by political pressure or the desire to be seen as "doing something", as these measures have significant, sometimes irreversible, impacts.

We ask governments to take responsibility for their actions by keeping travel-dependent businesses until restrictions are lifted and normal travel patterns re-emerge. So far, the government's responses to this economic factor have been uneven at best. We highlight the fact that in response to its Covid restrictions, Canada has pledged to support travel-dependent businesses in that country through May 2022, and we urge other world leaders to follow suit. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has continued to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks: “Overall, the evidence shows that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and can divert resources from other interventions ... Travel bans to affected areas or denial of entry to passengers coming from affected areas are generally not effective in preventing the importation of cases , but they can have a significant economic and social impact. "This is in line with the most recent European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) authoritative and scientifically based analysis,confirming that travel restrictions generally do not have an effective impact on the spread of the virus in Europe.  

Governments around the world must prioritize the global distribution of vaccines while continuing to support freedom of movement using scientifically proven and sensible measures: masking, improved sanitation protocols, reasonable testing requirements, and now, vaccination credentials. The global infrastructure to accommodate fast turnaround times for PCR and other acceptable tests, all within 24 hours to get results, is challenging even in the most advanced markets. Testing must be widely available and affordable, and it is the duty of governments around the world to provide the resources and support the science-based approach to testing and vaccination that it requires.  

Given their clear and devastating impact on the world economy, travel restrictions and outright bans cause serious economic damage. The ability to travel safely remains a critical marker of our success on this virus. Restricting access to travel only perpetuates the economic impact and postpones the global recovery in terms of travel and multiple other economic drivers around the world. 

ASTA, ASATA, ACTA, CHTA, ECTAA and WTAAA call on government leaders around the world to provide dedicated financial support to travel-dependent businesses and lift travel bans as quickly as possible. Relaxing restrictions on fully vaccinated travelers for entry to the US and other markets should remain a top priority, but more needs to be done to ensure travel-dependent businesses have access to immediate relief. when government action is the direct cause of economic problems


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