WTTC calls EU decision to remove U.S. from safe list as “step backwards”

WTTC calls EU decision to remove U.S. from safe list as “step backwards”

LONDON — The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has responded to the European Union’s decision to reinstate restrictions on U.S. tourists, calling it a “step backwards” in the road to tourism’s recovery.

Earlier this week, the EU removed the United States from its safe list of countries for non-essential travel in response to the country’s rising COVID-19 cases. This means U.S. visitors will likely face tighter travel restrictions when travelling to the 27-nation bloc, such as mandatory testing and quarantines.

In response, Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Protecting public health must remain the priority and WTTC strongly supports safety protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, the EU’s recommendation to reimpose restrictions on U.S. travellers is a step backwards and will only slow down the recovery of the sector.”

Simpson noted that with high vaccination levels in both the U.S. and the EU, the focus should be on opening up travel between the two major economies.

“We need a common set of rules that recognize global vaccines and remove the need to quarantine for people with a negative COVID result,” she said, adding that the U.S. is a key source market for many Member States and that tourism will be critical in restoring tens of thousands of jobs on both sides. “Rather than imposing further damaging travel restrictions, the EU should be encouraging Member States to use its groundbreaking Digital COVID Certificate to safely restore international travel, fundamental for the European economy.”

EU’s Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) was rolled out across Member States on July 1 as a way for travellers to securely upload and store their vaccination credentials. Last week, IATA referred to the DCC as the “blueprint” for other nations looking to implement digital vaccination certificates.