“Who is in charge of getting us out of this crisis and will lead the world to save the jobs and secure the futures of the many millions of people globally?" - a question that over 100 leaders of the world's travel brands say they know the answer to: nobody.
A joint letter, sent on their behalf by the World Travel & Tourism Council today to the G7 countries and Australia, South Korea and Spain, asks governments to convene
a COVID-19 global summit in a bid to "rescue the world from this unprecedented crisis."
Signatories to the letter include the CEOs of Expedia Group, Travelport, Hotelbeds, OYO, IBM, Uber and HRS, alongside a string of major airlines such as British Airways, Emirates, Jet2, Etihad, Iberia, Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines.
Other notable supporters are the leaders of TUI, CWT, Amex GBT, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Accor, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Radisson, Flight Centre, Westjet and Best Western.
The letter says the restart and recovery of the travel and tourism sector is highly dependent on rebuilding confidence in travelers and "consistent alignment amongst countries."
These would include four measures:
- Wearing a mask should be mandatory on all modes of transport.
- Rapid and reliable testing before departure and/or after arrival.
- Quarantine only for those with a positive test.
- Reinforcement of global protocols and standardization of health and safety measures.
The letter reminds governments of the $9 trillion contribution to the world's economy (10.3% of global GDP) that travel and tourism is estimated to make, including supporting some 330 million jobs.
Strong action now needed
The WTTC says some 120 million jobs are currently under threat or have been lost.
"We have reached the a stage where critical action is urgently needed," says Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, who says the private sector cannot meet the challenge on its own.
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"Any measures taken in silos moving forward will only worsen the plight of millions of ordinary people. This is not a binary solution or a choice between health on the one hand, and jobs, the economy and travel on the other.
"We can make strong progress on all these fronts if we follow the expert advice from science and learn from the past and positive experiences of others."
The plea from the WTTC and the letter's supporters follows other, local efforts from subsets of the industry.
Business travel brands in the U.S. called on the country's lawmakers to intervene earlier this month.
Other brands in the U.S. during July also urged for a ramp-up of COVID-19 testing measures.
Last week, McKinsey published a working document that outlined how state intervention could help coordinate efforts by the industry to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The report argued that four actions are required to support the industry's program:
- Public-private "tourism nerve centers" to oversee coordination of recovery efforts.
- New financing mechanisms.
- Transparent and consistent communications on recovery protocols (health, reopenings, etc.).
- Digital and analytical transformation.
The WTTC says it is "gravely concerned" that there is no clear or globally coordinated effort to protest "this uniquely exposed sector."
A copy of the letter sent to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is included below (download here).