As the world ends lockdowns and eases travel restrictions, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reveals what the “new normal” could be when people resume travel.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is confident that the country can rebuild local tourism as it works with WTTC, she said in a webinar, “The Future of Travel.”
The WTTC worked with the World Economic Forum, World Health Organization (WHO) and key stakeholders on recommendations to minimize the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry.
“Acknowledging this fact, we are certain that their insights will be greatly beneficial to our local tourism players,” Puyat said.
WTTC, a private global forum, is composed of more than 200 CEOs and presidents of the world’s leading travel and tourism companies covering all related industries including aviation, hotels and cruise companies. For 30 years, it has researched the economic impact of travel and tourism in 185 countries.
“We have learned from the past, especially after the tragedy of 9/11, where the lack of coordination among governments and with the private sector caused long-lasting travel disruption, higher costs and a longer recovery time,” said keynote speaker Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO.
She added that coordination within the travel and tourism sector is vital to ensure that “robust global measures are put in place” to rebuild confidence. She said the implementation of new safe travel protocols should create consistency across the sector.
“We are calling on governments to adopt them so that they can be implemented globally and restore much-needed confidence in order to restart the travel and tourism sector,” Guevara said.
The new protocols will provide such consistency to destinations and countries as well as guidance to travel providers, operators and travelers. At the heart of it is health and safety of travelers and tourism industry workers.
Guidelines follow the standards set by the WHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Domestic travel will resume first, then short-haul trips to nearby countries.
Younger travelers, between 18 and 35, will be among the first to begin traveling again, WTTC predicts.
“It is vital for the survival of the travel and tourism sector that we work together and map out the road to recovery, through coordinated actions,” said Guevara.
She added that new, unnecessary procedures must be avoided, as they only create bottlenecks and slow down recovery.
“However, a quick and effective restart of travel will happen only if governments around the world agree to common health protocols developed by the private sector,” Guevara said. “These must provide the reassurance travelers and authorities need, using new technology, to offer hassle-free, pre-vaccine new normal travel in the short term.”
Hotels, cruise operators, airports
Hotels, for example, are developing new digital technology for check-in, and adding hand-sanitizing stations and contactless payments. Cruise operators are taking further measures to ensure ships are free of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including the mandatory wearing of gloves at all times by its staff, and more frequent room cleaning.
Airport personnel must test passengers and increase social-distancing measures within the airport and during boarding, allowing flights to leave free of COVID-19. Aircraft must undergo intensive cleansing procedures.
These protocols were developed based on China’s initial recovery, and from new, successful standards used by retailers. They have been drafted so that worldwide, there is a coordinated approach to traveling within the COVID-19 world.
According to Cirium, a travel data and analytics expert, more than 30 percent of domestic capacity has returned to the Chinese aviation market in the last two months. Domestic flights have also resumed in countries such as Vietnam, which recorded relatively few coronavirus fatalities.
“There is more to tourism than just counting the numbers of arriving tourists. We are in the business of selling destinations so communities will thrive. We market adventure so our people will be employed,” Puyat said. “We promote culture as a way of preserving our heritage.”
She added that the concept of tourism is “deeply embedded in our consciousness.”
“I would like to believe that this is what makes our industry resilient despite all the challenges, even the toughest one that we are about to overcome,” Puyat said.