United Nations the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have called for travel prohibitions to be lifted. This was due to the fact that restrictions provide zero-to-no value and contribute to economic and social hardship and stress. WHO and UNWTO agreed to work together on a global trust infrastructure to help the tourism industry recover.
In the past months, an increasing number of countries worldwide have started to relax and lessen their immigration policies, including easing current travel bans. The suggestions are in accordance with the latest guidelines and recommendations given by WHO for safe international travel, which emphasize the ineffectiveness of blanket restrictions in preventing the transmission of the virus. This decision is also in line with UNWTO’s repeated warnings about restrictions’ serious social, economic, and developmental consequences.
The leaders of both organizations, UNWTO and WHO, agreed in Geneva on the significance of limiting or lifting travel bans. Blanket regulations should be replaced with risk-aware, evidence-based and context-specific policies.
All measures taken against international travel should be based on “risk assessments – including testing, isolation, and vaccinations,” according to WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR) on Covid-19. Furthermore, the financial burden of such precautions should not be borne by travelers themselves.
WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated
“As countries ease travel restrictions, health must remain the key priority. By basing their decisions on evidence and a risk-based approach adapted to their specific context, countries can find the right balance between keeping people safe, protecting livelihoods and the economy, and keeping borders open”.
The two UN agencies also emphasized the importance of clear and consistent health and travel standards. In the face of the pandemic, there is a need to build a global trust architecture for societies and economies, a real opportunity for tourism to contribute to that process, with UNWTO playing a critical role” according to Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme.
Properly managed, tourism has the potential to act as a force for development and opportunity, as highlighted in the sector’s enhanced relevance in the wider United Nations development agenda. Destinations around the world report increased tourist arrival numbers on the back of easing or removing restrictions. This trend offers the potential to kick start economic recovery and put social development progress back on track.
Among the countries to have revised their travel restrictions is Switzerland, one of Europe’s leading destinations, which welcomed the UNWTO delegation at the beginning of a week of key meetings.