Travellers Confused By Inconsistent COVID-19 Travel Rules And Advice Across Europe
Lack of alignment will slow down the Europe-wide recovery - Proper co-ordination by European governments could create a 10 million jobs boost
London, UK - The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has called for more consistent travel rules and COVID-19 advice by European countries to counter confusion by travellers and holidaymakers.
The uneven patchwork of COVID-19 national border restrictions and rules across a supposedly single Schengen zone is an obvious deterrent to cross-border movement.
Unnecessary and inconsistent border constraints are deterring travellers and suppressing the resurgence of Travel & Tourism. The sector's return is urgently needed to regenerate destinations and act as a catalyst for the global economic recovery.
WTTC research shows that every 2.7% increase in travellers would generate or recover one million jobs in the sector. Governments working together with the right coordinated measures could stimulate an increase in travel by as much as 27%, recreating a massive 10 million jobs in Travel and Tourism.
Consumer confusion over travel rules such as the wearing of face masks is evident. It is mandatory on public transport in some countries, such as France and Germany, but only recommended in Norway and Sweden. Meanwhile in Malta, masks must be worn in all public places whereas in Poland they are not if people can respect physical distancing.
Medical advice, including from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is clear that the use of face masks helps reduce the risk of transmission up to 90%, protects the user and those around them, as well as reintroducing a greater sense of normality for travellers.
However, WTTC warns that unless European governments make a greater effort to align their policies it will cause the fragile recovery to stutter and slowdown, putting 16 million jobs in Travel & Tourism at risk.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: "WTTC calls on all European heads of state to unite for the benefit of the millions of people who depend on this sector in Europe; both travellers and workers.
"It is urgent that governments learn from the past and take quick and effective action to coordinate and harmonise travel rules and border requirements to bring consistency for everyone across Europe. Previous crises, including the 2008 financial crash, shows where governments coordinate to align policies, their leadership resulted in a quicker recovery.
"We are encouraged to see that more travellers are spending time searching for holiday destinations across Europe following the easing of travel restrictions. Unfortunately, the lack of coordination among countries has created inconsistencies which means we are failing to rebuild the trust of potential travellers.
"Anyone travelling from one European country to the next faces a bewildering difference in travel advice, covering masks, testing and contact tracing which could seriously hinder the return of the Travel & Tourism sector.
"This climate of uncertainty for travellers and holidaymakers is the last thing they need at a time when the Travel & Tourism sector is crying out for consistency. The restoration of consumer confidence, during the most important season of the year in one of the world's largest regions for Travel & Tourism cannot be understated.
"The time to work together is now. The Travel & Tourism private sector wants to work in partnership with governments and destinations using WTTC's carefully devised Safe Travels protocols to bring clarity and wipe away consumer confusion."
To align policies, governments need take into consideration more than just mortality rates. Wider country measures, including infection rates, the percentage of tests and contact tracing, the health system's ability to cope with COVID-19 and the public's acceptance of mask-wearing and observance of social distancing is also important.
The Travel & Tourism sector contributes a massive 9.1% of Europe's GDP, worth US$2,018.2 billion to the continent's economy. Last year, according to the WTTC Travel & Tourism Economic Impact Report 2020, the sector was responsible for 37.1 million jobs (9.7% of Europe's total employment number).
The welfare of travellers and the millions of people working across the Travel & Tourism sector is central to WTTC Safe Travels protocols, which are backed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and thousands of businesses around the world.
WTTC is the body which represents the Travel & Tourism private sector globally. Members consist of CEOs of the world's Travel & Tourism companies, destinations, and industry organisations engaging with Travel & Tourism.
WTTC has a history of 25 years of research to quantify the economic impact of the sector in 185 countries. Travel & Tourism is a key driver for investment and economic growth globally. The sector contributes US$8.8 trillion or 10.4% of global GDP, and accounts for 319 million jobs or one in ten of all jobs on the planet.
For over 25 years, WTTC has been the voice of this industry globally. Members are the Chairs, Presidents and Chief Executives of the world's leading, private sector Travel & Tourism businesses, who bring specialist knowledge to guide government policy and decision-making and raise awareness of the importance of the sector.