LONDON, UK — The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is pushing for ‘air corridors’ and urging governments to avoid country-wide border closures that could “seriously jeopardize global economic recovery.”
Rather than travel blanket restrictions, the organization is in favour of a more calibrated approach that includes localized measures and the opening of city-to-city ‘air corridors’ between global financial centres such as London, Frankfurt and New York. This, says WTTC, would help restart business travel and prevent crippling the already battered Travel & Tourism sector.
“Governments should not close off access to other countries in their entirety. Only regional border measures should be imposed if essential so that the recovery of a country’s whole economy is not jeopardized in future,” says WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara. “The establishment of ‘air corridors’ between financial centres where infection levels are low, such as between London and New York, would provide a vital boost to business travel and aid the economic recovery.”
Guevara adds: “Enforcing country-wide restrictions is a blunt instrument that benefits no one – neither travellers, the local population, the economy or the Travel & Tourism sector, which has been left reeling from the impact of worldwide travel restrictions.”
According to the WTTC, the Travel & Tourism sector generated one in four of all new jobs last year. Its 2020 Economic Impact Report shows that during 2019, the sector supported one in 10 jobs of all jobs (330 million total) and made a massive 10.3% contribution to global GDP.
Restoring business travel, particularly via transatlantic flights, is particularly key in kickstarting the economic recovery. WTTC research shows that for two of the world’s top business centres, business travellers account for one U.S. Dollar in every three spent in New York, and one pound Sterling out of every four spent in London.
WTTC has called for more consistent COVID-19 travel rules to be adopted by European countries, issuing a warning that unless European governments make a greater effort to align their policies, the fragile recovery will stutter and slowdown, putting 16 million jobs in Travel & Tourism at risk.
“It is perfectly possible to fight COVID-19 and support the economic recovery through the Travel & Tourism sector at the same time,” says Guevara. “We urge governments to consider only local lockdowns as the key to opening the door to a successful way forward.”