More delays for travel’s restart if ‘wrong’ vaccines mean borders stay closed: WTTC

More delays for travel’s restart if ‘wrong’ vaccines mean borders stay closed: WTTC

LONDON — The World Travel & Tourism Council is warning that the restart of international travel could be seriously delayed without worldwide reciprocal recognition of all approved COVID-19 vaccines

The global tourism body, which represents the global private travel and tourism sector, has issued its warning following concerns tourists face being turned away at the borders because countries don’t have a common list internationally recognized and approved COVID-19 vaccines.

The WTTC notes that British holidaymakers vaccinated with the Indian Covishield batch of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, were rejected entry into Malta recently despite the drug being chemically identical to the UK-made vaccine.

And as Travelweek reported yesterday, Barbados’ Ministry of Health and Wellness currently categorizes travellers with mixed vaccine brands as unvaccinated. For now at least, any travellers to Barbados who are fully vaccinated, but with more than one brand, must follow the protocols for unvaccinated travellers.

WTTC says that once again, the lack of international coordination to agree on a list of approved vaccines, is creating yet another major stumbling block for the restart of international travel.

“Reciprocal recognition of all vaccine types and batches is essential if we are to avoid any further unnecessary and damaging delay to restarting international travel,” says Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President WTTC.

“The failure of countries to agree on a common list of all approved and recognized vaccines is of huge concern to WTTC, as we know every day travel is curbed, more cash-strapped Travel & Tourism businesses face even greater strain, pushing ever more to the brink of bankruptcy,” she adds.

“We can avoid this by having a fully recognized list of all the approved vaccines – and vaccine batches – which should be the key to unlocking international travel, not the door to preventing it.

“It will also give holidaymakers and travellers the confidence they need to book trips, flights and cruises, confident in the knowledge that their fully-vaccinated status will be internationally recognized.”

The plea for reciprocal recognition for all vaccines and vaccine batches forms part of WTTC’s four new guidelines which are aimed at safely resuming international mobility and save the millions of jobs and livelihoods which depend on this sector, while kick-starting the global economic recovery.

Those 4 guidelines are:

  • Appropriately reduced protocols for vaccinated travellers, including no need for testing or quarantine for those fully vaccinated. Global recognition for international travel of all vaccines authorised for use and deemed safe and effective by the WHO or by the WHO recognised SRAs
  • A data driven, risk-based and internationally harmonised approach to re-establishing freedom of movement, that is consistent across countries, easy to communicate and clearly understood by travellers
  • Global adoption of ‘digital health passes’ which enable travellers to easily obtain and verify their vaccination status, negative COVID test result or natural immunity from a previous infection. These must work with existing border control and travel operator systems accepted by all countries. Digital verification of a traveller’s COVID status prior to travel will avoid lengthy and unsafe queues in transport hubs and terminals
  • Continued implementation of high-quality health and safety standards throughout all areas of the Travel & Tourism sector, including continued adoption of the WTTC’s Safe Travel Protocols and Safe Travel Stamp, with the continued wearing of face masks in crowded and enclosed areas as well as on all forms of public transport