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US Travel Association Predicts Drop in Inbound International Travel

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Though there have been no official warnings or restrictions on travel into or out of the United States coronavirus, the Leading Travel Index projects international inbound travel to the U.S. will fall six percent over the next three months due to the virus.

The Leading Travel Index is the predictive component of the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Trends Index (TTI).

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The predicted six percent drop compared to the same year-over-year time period in 2019 is the sharpest in the five-year history of the TTI. It would be the largest decline in international inbound travel since the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

“There is a lot of uncertainty around coronavirus, and it is pretty clear that it is having an effect on travel demand—not just from China, and not just internationally, but for domestic business and leisure travel as well,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said in a statement.

The latest TTI captures data from January when awareness of coronavirus began to ramp up and China—one of the biggest travel markets to the U.S.—implemented aggressive measures to curb travel out of certain cities.

U.S. Travel economists caution that the detectable coronavirus is almost certain to escalate once data becomes available for February, when the U.S. functionally restricted inbound travel from China and concern began to take hold in earnest around the world.

“A big part of the coronavirus narrative is about whether it’s safe to travel,” Dow said, “but it’s important to keep in mind that the restrictions and warnings are highly specific to countries where there have been pronounced outbreaks. Right now there is absolutely no official guidance that people need to be reconsidering travel in the U.S.”

Dow pointed to advice from agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control that the best thing travelers can do is utilize good health practices—wash hands often, cover your cough or sneeze, stay home if you are sick, etc.

“Obviously the traveling public should be exercising caution just as they would for the average flu season,” he said. “But for the many of us who have upcoming plans to attend a convention or meeting or go on a family vacation, public health officials have repeatedly said there is no cause to alter those U.S.-based plans at the moment.”

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WTTC Unveils Safe Travels Protocols for Airlines, Tour Operators and More

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The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has unveiled a new round of safety measures aimed at airlines, airports, tour operators and meeting and event organizers in an effort to propel the post-COVID-19 recovery.

WTTC previously released its Safe Travels protocols for the hospitality sector as well as outdoor retail businesses.

Developed following close consultation with WTTC members such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Emirates Group and Etihad, among others, guidance for the aviation industry includes enhanced cleaning procedures, personal protective equipment (PPE) and retraining for staff, signage to limit interaction and queuing at touchpoints and the implementation of more contactless processes.

WTTC is also recommending that airlines limit movement within the cabin as much as possible by boarding passengers from the back of the plane to the front and from the window seats out to the aisle seats.

“COVID-19 is a gamechanger for the travel and tourism sector, requiring us to enhance our approach to health and safety to protect our travelers and workforce,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO at IATA, in a statement. “Aviation is the business of freedom and it is vital to enable its restart on a safe basis. IATA is delighted to lend its framework and collaborate with WTTC on the Aviation Protocols as part of its Safe Travels initiative. This is an excellent example of the industry solidarity and cooperation that will be so vital to ensuring a strong recovery for travel and tourism.”

Meanwhile, tour operators are being asked to enhance disinfection and deep cleaning practices for coaches and other vehicles as well as to roll out pre-allocated seating plans with no rotation and explore staggered timing for access to venues, hotels and restaurants, among other measures.

Convention centers and meetings and event organizers are encouraged to implement physical distancing, reduce venue capacity limits, consider pre-arrival risk assessment questionnaires for participants and create isolation units outside the venue where possible for anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms.

“For the first time ever, the global private sector has rallied around our Safe Travels protocols which will create the consistency needed to allow a re-invigorated Travel & Tourism sector re-open for business,” stated WTTC President & CEO, Gloria Guevara. “Among the most important of these measures are those which will enable the aviation sector to take-off. Aviation’s return is critical to help repower the global economic recovery.”

“WTTC aviation protocols were created in close collaboration with ACI and IATA. We thank them and their leaders Angela Gittens and Alexandre de Juniac for their guidance, as it is vital we restore consumer confidence to get people traveling and flying safely,” she added. “The expertise from large and small tour operators contributed to define the new experience via tour operators and visiting event venues again, and were defined in the coordination of experts from this segment, through these robust global measures which have been embraced by businesses around the world.”

Visit WTTC.org to view a complete breakdown of the latest Safe Travels global protocols.

This post was published by our news partner: TravelPulse.com | Article Source

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