Global Travel Agency Associations Believe Closing Borders Hurts the Industry

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

The 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 World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA) said in a statement that “when elected officials make public policy decisions in the interest of public health, those governments have an obligation to provide financial resources to those industries and individuals most affected by their decisions.”

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The group noted that border closures and restrictions affect millions in the travel and tourism industry, putting vulnerable businesses further at risk.

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

The associations also noted that government support for travel-related businesses has been uneven and said that Canada’s policy of supporting travel companies through May of 2022 should be a global example for other countries.

They also pointed out that the World Health Organization (WHO) doesn’t believe travel restrictions work.

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

The associations said that 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 for travel-reliant businesses and to lift travel bans as quickly as possible,” said the statement. “Loosening restrictions on fully-vaccinated travelers for entry into the U.S. and other markets should continue to be a top priority, but more needs to be done to ensure that travel-reliant businesses have access to immediate relief when government action is the direct cause of economic hardship.”