In recent days, more and more countries around the world have begun to relax their rules on international arrivals, including the easing of travel bans. These decisions are in line with the latest WHO recommendations on safe international mobility, which highlight the ineffectiveness of general restrictions in controlling the spread of viruses. This trend is also in line with the UNWTO’s repeated warnings about the major social, economic and developmental consequences of the restrictions.
UNWTO and WHO: a common approach
In Geneva, UNWTO and WHO leaders agreed on the importance of easing or lifting travel bans. General constraints should be replaced by risk-based, evidence-based, context-specific policies.
“UNWTO-led global tourism has followed the advice of the WHO since the beginning of this crisis,” said the UNWTO Secretary-General. Zurab Pololikashvili. He stressed the need to “continue like this and reopen safely and responsibly and allow tourism to exploit its unique potential as a driver of recovery and growth”.
A risk- and evidence-based approach
According to the COVID-19 Emergency Committee of the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR), all measures applied to international travelers should be based on “risk assessments – including testing, isolation and vaccination”. Furthermore, the financial burden of such measures should not be placed on the passengers themselves.
– As countries ease travel restrictions, health must remain a key priority. By basing their decisions on an evidence-based and risk-based approach adapted to their own circumstances, countries can find the right balance between protecting people’s security, livelihoods and the economy, and keeping borders open, ”said Dr WHO Director-General. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Building a global trust architecture
Both UN agencies also stressed the need for clear and consistent rules on health and travel. In the context of a pandemic, there is a need to build a global trust architecture of societies and economies, and “tourism has a real opportunity to participate in this process, and UNWTO has a crucial role to play,” said Dr. Michael RyanDirector-General of the WHO Health Emergency Program.
Properly managed, tourism has the potential to be a force for development and opportunity, as the growing importance of the sector is highlighted in the wider United Nations Development Program. Destinations around the world report an increase in the number of tourists as a result of the easing or removal of restrictions. This trend offers an opportunity to kick-start economic recovery and get social development back on track.
Among the countries that have reformed their travel restrictions is Switzerland, one of Europe’s leading destinations, which welcomed the UNWTO delegation at the beginning of the key meeting week.
Source: World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Source: The Nordic Page