IATA also urged governments to accelerate relaxation of regulations imposed on travellers
Citing the varied global responses to the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has reiterated that restrictions on travel are not effective in suppressing the international spread. In line with UNWTO’s recurring warning against the use of blanket restrictions, the 10th meeting of sister UN agency, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Health Regulations Emergency Committee expressed concern that such measures can cause economic and social harm and discourage transparent reporting of emerging variants of concern.
The Committee also noted that measures applied to international travellers such as testing, isolation and quarantine, and vaccinations, should be based on risk assessments and avoid placing the financial burden on international travellers.
UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “When it comes to stopping the spread of new virus variants, blanket travel restrictions are simply counterproductive. In fact, by cutting the lifeline of tourism, these restrictions do more harm than good, especially in destinations reliant on international tourists for jobs, economic wellbeing and sustainable change.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also urged governments to remove all travel barriers, including quarantine and testing, for those fully vaccinated as Covid-19 continues to evolve from pandemic to endemic stage. The organisation has called for quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travellers with negative pre-departure antigen test results in recognition of the fact that travellers pose no greater risk for Covid-19 spread than already exists in the general population.
Pololikashvili added: “It is imperative we restart tourism and so kickstart recovery and get back on track towards meeting the SDGs while responding to Climate Imperatives.
“UNWTO welcomes WHO’s new guidance, highlighting the ineffectiveness of blanket travel restrictions, and we also amplify their recommendations against using vaccination status as the sole condition for welcoming tourists back, especially when vaccination rates remain so uneven.”