The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) says travel is likely to return first in domestic markets in the form of “staycations,” before expanding to a country’s nearest neighbors, across regions and, finally, across continents. The WTTC believes younger travelers (in the 18-35 age group), who appear to be less vulnerable to COVID-19 (coronavirus), may also be among the first to begin traveling once again.
In order to open travel sooner, and more effectively, the WTTC says a coordinated effort between governments and businesses are crucial. As part of its “Traveling in the New Normal” plan, the WTTC says a coordinated effort must include new health and safety standards and protocols, “which offer a safe and responsible road to recovery for the global travel and tourism sector as consumers start planning trips again.” The plans consider that a vaccine is not yet available on a mass scale, therefore allowing travel to resume prior to billions across the globe being inoculated.
There will be new protocols for check-in involving digital technology; hand sanitizer stations at frequent points including where luggage is stored; contactless payment instead of cash; using stairs more often than lifts where the six-foot rule can be harder to maintain; and fitness equipment being moved for greater separation among other examples.
Cruise operators will take further measures to ensure ships are free of COVID-19, including staff wearing gloves at all times, which are then frequently changed; and more frequent room cleaning.
Travelers at airports will be tested before they fly and upon arrival at their destination airport. They can expect to see social distancing measures at the airport and during boarding, as well as wearing masks while onboard. Aircraft will also be subject to intensive cleansing regimes. These measures will be combined with contact-tracing, via mobile app, that will allow flights to leave airports COVID-19-free.
The protocols, the WTTC says, have been developed using experience from China’s initial recovery and from new successful standards used by retailers. They will be fully announced in the next two weeks and shared with governments globally.
The plan is being created in collaboration with such WTTC members as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Airport Council International (ACI), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), United States Travel Association (USTA), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the European Travel Commission (ETC) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).