World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned that the travel sector must be ready for “the new normal” once the coronavirus recovery comes, as masks could become an essential travel item

Nigerians are already taking the face mask to the next level

According to the council, travel firms will have to quickly adapt to new health and safety protocols, and place a renewed focus on customer reassurance.

The WTTC believes domestic staycation travel will return first, before nations open to their nearest neighbours, regions – and eventually the world – while younger travellers aged 18-35 may be among the first to start travelling again.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive, said: “It is vital for the survival of the travel and tourism sector we work together and map out the road to recovery through coordinated actions and offer the reassurance people need to begin travelling once again.

We’ve learned from past experiences that when the protocols from private sector are taken into account and we have a coordinated approach, the recovery timeframe is significantly reduced – private-public sector collaboration is crucial.

We should avoid new, unnecessary procedures that create bottlenecks and slow the recovery. However, a quick and effective restart of travel will only happen if governments around the world agree to a common set of health protocols developed by the private sector, such as those we’ve outlined.

  • These must provide the reassurance travellers and authorities need, using new technology, to offer hassle-free, pre-vaccine ’new normal’ travel in the short term.
  • Participants in discussions around these protocols include Iata, Clia and the UNWTO, among others, to address the foremost concerns of the aviation and cruise sectors, said the WTTC, which has set out some of the likely outcomes.
  • Travellers at airports will be tested by they fly and upon arrival, with social distancing measures enforced at airports and during boarding, with an insistence on masks being warn during flights. These measures will be combined with contact tracing via an app to allow flights to leave airports “Covid-free”. Aircraft will also be subject to more intense cleaning regimes.
  • Cruise lines will have to step up measures to ensure ships are free of coronavirus; staff will be required to wear gloves at all times, and there will be more frequent room cleaning.
  • Hotels, meanwhile, are developing protocols based on learnings from offering free hotel rooms to frontline healthcare workers “to improve hygiene standards and ensure guest safety”. These include digital check-in; hand sanitiser stations; contactless payment; guiding guests to take stairs rather than lifts to observe social distancing; and spacing out fitness equipment

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