Country-wide border closures could stall global economic recovery

WTTC is urging global governments to adopt a carefully calibrated approach to country-wide border closures, and introduce localised measures only to combat Covid-19 spikes, warning that continued border closures could jeopardise global economic recovery and cripple the already battered travel and tourism sector.

The UN body said that it supports the opening of city to city “air corridors” between global financial centres where infection levels are low, such as London and Frankfurt and New York, to help restart business travel and aid the economic recovery.

WTTC advises regional and local measures only to combat Covid-19 spikes

As some countries around the world are experiencing local coronavirus spikes, this is forcing a re-think by a number of governments which are now having to consider reintroducing tough and unwelcome new “anti-travel” measures, WTTC said in a press statement.

According to the latest statistics from Johns Hopkins University in the US, the worldwide Covid-19 death toll has passed 606,000, while the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has now surpassed more than 14.5 million.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president & CEO, said: “Enforcing country-wide restrictions is a blunt instrument which benefits no one – neither travellers, the local population, the economy or the travel and tourism sector which has been left reeling from the impact of worldwide travel restrictions.

“Such measures could undo the significant efforts to revive travel and tourism, which has recently shown encouraging signs of emerging from the worst of the pandemic, and which in turn, has brought hope to millions of people around the world who depend upon the sector for their livelihoods.

“Taking a more carefully calibrated approach to strategically combating coronavirus spikes with local measures rather than country-wide closures, will contain Covid-19 and preserve a country’s attempt to kick-start their economy by continuing to attract travellers to unaffected areas.”

The travel and tourism sector plays a critical role to powering the global economic recovery, generating one in four of all new jobs last year. WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report shows that during 2019, the sector supported one in 10 of all jobs, or 330 million jobs in total; and made a massive 10.3 per cent contribution to global GDP.

Guevara added: “It is perfectly possible to fight Covid-19 and support the economic recovery through the travel and tourism sector at the same time. We urge governments to consider only local lockdowns as the key to opening the door to a successful way forward.”

Restoring business travel, especially via transatlantic flights, is key to help kick-start the economic recovery. WTTC research shows that for two of the world’s top business centres, business travellers account for one in every three US dollars spent in New York and one out of every four pound sterling spent in London.

WTTC research showed that every 2.7 per cent 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 per cent, recreating a massive 10 million jobs in travel and tourism.