Global travel agency associations believe border closures are hurting the industry

Global associations of travel agencies have come together to call on government leaders to lift travel bans for countries and regions.

American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), Association of South African Travel Agencies (ASATA), Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA) and the World Alliance of Travel Agent Associations (WTAAA) said in a statement that “when elected officials make public policy decisions in the interest of public health, these governments have an obligation to provide financial resources to the industries and individuals most affected by their decisions”.

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The group noted that border closures and restrictions are affecting millions of people in the travel and tourism industry, further endangering vulnerable businesses.

“We collectively call on world government leaders to follow the best available science when determining border measures, including testing and bans. Many countries are following strong biosecurity protocols, including masking, social distancing and vaccination requirements,” the statement read.

The associations also noted that government support for travel-related businesses was uneven and said Canada’s policy to support travel businesses until May 2022 should be a global example for other countries.

They also pointed out that the World Health Organization (WHO) does not believe the travel restrictions are working.

“Generally, evidence shows that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and can divert resources from other interventions…Travel bans in areas affected areas or the denial of entry to passengers from affected areas are generally not effective in preventing the importation of cases, but can have a significant economic and social impact,” the WHO said.

The associations said governments should also prioritize the global distribution of vaccines in addition to supporting travel-related businesses and easing restrictions.

“ASTA, ASATA, ACTA, CHTA, ECTAA and WTAAA call on government leaders around the world to provide dedicated financial support to travel dependent businesses and lift travel bans as soon as possible. as soon as possible,” the statement read. “Easing restrictions on fully immunized travelers for entry into the United States and other markets should continue to be a top priority, but more needs to be done to ensure that travel-dependent businesses have access to immediate assistance when government action is the direct cause of economic hardship.”

Willie R. Golden