Approved vaccine inconsistency could delay the restart of
Warning comes as tourists are blocked at the borders
The restart of international travel could be seriously delayed without worldwide reciprocal recognition of all approved COVID-19 vaccines, says the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
The global tourism body, which represents the global private Travel & Tourism sector, has issued its warning following concerns tourists face being turned away at the borders because countries don’t have a common list internationally recognised and approved COVID-19 vaccines.
This comes just days after a number of British holidaymakers, who had been administered the Indian Covishield batch of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, were rejected entry into Malta despite the drug being chemically identical to the UK-made vaccine.
Over the past few weeks reports of holidaymakers facing obstacles to entry have been on the rise, with some even being prevented from boarding their flights to destinations.
WTTC believes that once again, the lack of international coordination to agree on a list of approved vaccines, is creating yet another major stumbling block for the restart of international travel.
Reports of travellers being turned away because they have the ‘wrong’ vaccine batches or ‘unrecognised’ vaccines have fueled concern from consumers, deterring them from booking and thereby damaging the already struggling Travel & Tourism sector.
The plea for reciprocal recognition for all vaccines and vaccine batches forms part of WTTC’s four new guidelines which are aimed at safely resuming international mobility and save the millions of jobs and livelihoods which depend on this sector, while kick-starting the global economic recovery.
Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President WTTC, said: “Reciprocal recognition of all vaccine types and batches is essential if we are to avoid any further unnecessary and damaging delay to restarting international travel.
“The failure of countries to agree on a common list of all approved and recognised vaccines is of huge concern to WTTC, as we know every day travel is curbed, more cash-strapped Travel & Tourism businesses face even greater strain, pushing ever more to the brink of bankruptcy.
“We can avoid this by having a fully recognised list of all the approved vaccines – and vaccine batches – which should be the key to unlocking international travel, not the door to preventing it.
“It will also give holidaymakers and travellers the confidence they need to book trips, flights and cruises, confident in the knowledge that their fully-vaccinated status will be internationally recognised.”
WTTC says the restoration of safe international travel can be achieved by following its four guidelines.
Through a combination of COVID-19 testing, vaccination, digital health travel passes and the use of health and safety protocols, such as wearing face masks, safe international mobility can resume while at the same time saving millions of jobs and livelihoods which depend on the sector and kick-starting the global economic recovery.