The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has outlined what the “new normal” will look like as countries begin to end their COVID-19 lockdowns and ease travel restrictions. “Travelling in the New Normal” is part of WTTC’s plan which includes critical steps and coordinated actions, including new standards and protocols, which offer a safe and responsible road to recovery for the global Travel & Tourism sector as consumers start planning trips again.
Travel is likely to return first to domestic markets with staycations; then to a country’s nearest neighbours before expanding across regions, and then finally across continents to welcome the return of journeys to long-haul international destinations. WTTC believes younger travellers in the 18-35 age group, who appear to be less vulnerable to COVID-19, may also be among the first to begin travelling once again.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “It is vital for the survival of the Travel & Tourism sector that 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 have 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, so the private-public sector collaboration is crucial.
“We should avoid new, unnecessary procedures that create bottle necks and slow down 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.”
According to the release by WTTC, hotels are developing protocols based on learnings from offering free rooms to frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 crisis in order to offer world-class cleanliness, improved hygiene standards and ensure guest safety.
There will be new protocols for check-in involving digital technology; hand sanitiser stations at frequent points including where luggage is stored; contactless payment instead of cash; using stairs more often than lifts where the 2 meter rule can be harder to maintain; and fitness equipment being moved for greater separation among other examples.
Cruise operators will take further measures to ensure ships are free of COVID-19 including staff wearing gloves at all times which are then frequently changed; and more frequent room cleaning.
Travellers at airports will find themselves tested before they fly and upon arrival at their destination airport. They can expect to see social distancing measures at the airport and during boarding, as well as wearing masks while onboard.
Aircraft will also be subject to intensive cleansing regimes. These measures will be combined with contact-tracing, via mobile app, that will allow flights to leave airports COVID-19-free.
There are positive signs of the first green shoots of recovery. Research by travel data and analytics expert Cirium shows that over 30% of domestic capacity has returned to the Chinese aviation market in the last two months.
Domestic flights have also resumed in some countries, such as in Vietnam between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, with Vietnam recording relatively few coronavirus fatalities.
To speed up the global recovery WTTC will continue to work closely with the G20, EU, international organisations and governments around the world to help translate the new protocols into easily adopted public policies by each country while adhering to common global standards.