“What we need is a new multilateral system, a more harmonized, fair, and equitable system, because it’s not important how successful every country is on its own. If one cannot travel from one place to another, what countries do independently is of no consequence. This is the nature of travel. It connects people and places.
“We have to function as one. We cannot have one country insisting on quarantine, while its neighbors are demanding a vaccination passport, and a third country is requiring simply a 72-hour testing proof before arrival.
“The European Union is a good example of this failure of the multilateral system. Even the United States is not ‘united’ anymore. Each state is acting on its own, and so is the UN system altogether. They have all failed us.
“We need to rebuild a new multilateral system from the bottom up, brick by brick. We need to build a system that does not depend on the principles of the haves and the have nots.
“Vaccination is a good example. At the current rate we are going at, it will take us no less than 5 years to vaccinate 70% of the world population.
“The travel industry will only bounce forward to a new norm when the whole world is ready to travel under a unified system.
“The nature of travel is that you have to send people and receive people. It is, therefore, not wise maybe to depend solely on vaccinations.
“It is not fair nor is it equitable in today’s world for countries and people that do not have the ability to vaccinate the majority of their populations. We do not want to turn this into a political game, and most importantly, we will all lose if we pit those who have been vaccinated against those who have been unable to get vaccinated. In that scenario, nobody will travel to a non-vaccinated destination, and no vaccinated destination would accept receiving anyone from a non-vaccinated destination.
“Travel is about connecting everybody everywhere, so it will not work until everyone is vaccinated, and that is going to take a long time.
“Affordable testing in a harmonized way may just be more logical for a faster and more immediate recovery, or a combination of both vaccination and testing systems, because if we want a quick recovery, we can start rather immediately by harmonizing a testing system and making it become more available and more affordable for all.
“Testing is easier and faster, but most important is to have a one international agreement for that to work for all countries.
“There will be no coming back until people have a peace of mind and have the confidence to trust a system – one universal system – that will be on an international level. People will not travel simply because their government says, ‘you can now travel.’
“There is an opportunity that comes out of every crises. The prime winner from this crisis is domestic and regional tourism. While it is true that domestic travel does not bring in hard currency or contribute to the balance of trade, it does help keep businesses and jobs alive, which is a good thing especially for developing countries where a tourist is only a foreigner – a blonde, blue-eyed person.
“Any country that is not visited and enjoyed by its own people first, cannot be nor should it be enjoyed by an outside visitor. To me, this a matter of principle, not just a current or temporary need due to a crisis that will set the record clear once and for all.
“Many lessons can be learned from our current situation, such as the value and importance of travel all together and in particular, domestic and regional travel. Also to be learned is the importance and prominence of digital technology, health and sanitation safety rules of the new norm, and finally the need to retrain our workforce to adjust to all of the above and use this as an ideal time for positive change. Continue to read by clicking on NEXT.