WTTC: Inconsistent Vaccine Recognition Could Delay the Restart of International Travel

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has expressed its concerns that the lack of governments’ coordination to agree on a list of approved COVID-19 vaccines could continue to block the restart of international travel.

“The restart of international travel could be seriously delayed without worldwide reciprocal recognition of all approved COVID-19 vaccines,” the statement published by the tourism body, which represents the global private travel and tourism sector has revealed,  SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

WTTC’s comments came after many travellers from the United Kingdom who have taken the AstraZeneca jab, manufactured in India, were not permitted to enter Malta, even though the vaccine is identical to the UK-made vaccine, approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Malta’s government previously announced that it would restrict non-vaccinated passengers wishing to enter the country from the United Kingdom, as the latter faces an increased number of COVID-19 infections, especially from the Delta variant. Such a decision was considered discriminatory by the European Union.

Due to the recent increase in the number of infections in the UK, some countries started to impose stricter restrictions on arrivals from Britain in a bid to stop the further spread of the disease.

However, several countries in Europe said that they would start accepting the vaccine version of AstraZeneca produced in India, known as Covishield.

Recently, the number of holidaymakers facing many difficulties entering other countries has marked an increase. According to WTTC, such a situation is provoked by the lack of coordination to agree on a list of approved vaccines.

Many travellers face difficulties despite most vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Such difficulties reported by passengers, according to WTTC, are damaging the already struggling travel and tourism sector.

“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 Senior Vice President of the WTTC, Virginia Messina, pointed out.

She said WTTC is very concerned regarding the failure of countries to agree on a standard list of recognized vaccines, stressing that everyday travel is curbed and more cash-strapped travel and tourism businesses face even more significant strain.

“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,” Messina stresses.

WTTC believes the restoration of safe international travel can be possible by following four guidelines:

  • Worldwide recognition for international travel of all vaccines deemed safe by the World Health Organization.
  • “A data-driven, risk-based and internationally harmonised approach to re-establishing freedom of movement that is consistent across countries.”
  • International adoption of digital health passports which permits passengers to obtain and verify their vaccination status easily.
  • Continued implementation of high-quality safety and  health and standards “throughout all areas of travel and tourism industry.”

Previously, the annual Economic Trends Report conducted by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed that Europe’s travel and tourism sector marked a 51.4 per cent decline (€987 BN) last year, due to the Coronavirus.

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