The organisation issued its warning in July, following news reports that some UK tourists were turned away at the border of Malta because the tourists in question had received the India-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not approved in Malta.
WTTC believes that the lack of international co-ordination to agree on a list of approved vaccines is creating yet another major stumbling block for the restart of international travel. This lack of cohesion among states comes despite most vaccines securing the approval of the World Health Organisation (WHO) or Stringent Regulatory Authorities, such as the UK’s the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the Food and Drug Administration in the US, and the European Medicines Agency.
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 and tourism businesses face even greater strain, pushing ever more to the brink of bankruptcy.” She continued: “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.
The restoration of international travel seems suddenly to be a long way off, with the Delta variant causes spikes in infection throughout the world. ITIJ watches and waits, and hopes, but it seems like the plan to allow everyone to enjoy a much-needed rest during this July and August isn’t going to happen. The lack of holidays means but one thing – no one is claiming on their travel insurance for anything other than cancellations. More pressure on travel insurers and their suppliers is therefore inevitable. ITIJ will be analysing how the ongoing travel chaos is affecting the travel insurance market, with consolidation and underwriting capacity top of the agenda, in the next issue of the magazine.