With the aim of establishing actions and commitments to restart international travel, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Spanish government hosted a hybrid conference, where leaders from the industry both from the public and private sector participated, covering 95 countries and more than 100 travel and tourism companies.
Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, reiterated his commitment to the sector and confirmed the leadership of Spain by holding a major conference to discuss key measures needed to revive international travel and tourism.
The conference was a follow up to last month’s first ever G20 public-private sector Tourism meeting, where around 45 CEOs and WTTC members were invited for the first time at the request of Saudi Arabia, host country.
As a result of the discussions, the ‘La Palma Declaration’ has been signed by all key parties.
The ‘La Palma Declaration’ includes a number of key recommendations which includes the adoption of international protocols for COVID-19 tests prior departure, and acceptance of results upon arrival at destination. This testing regime has proven successful in a number of countries, such as Spain and the Canary Islands.
The establishment of health control measures such as this, will allow shorter quarantine periods when returning to the country of origin, or could lead to eliminating quarantines completely.
As well, the ‘La Palma Declaration’ proposes to establish international agreements to implement international travel corridors to facilitate the return of both leisure and business travel between countries or cities with similar epidemiological situations.
Travel and tourism companies were also invited to propose further measures to adapt and facilitate travels in the context of the pandemic. These options included offering flexible bookings, payment terms, or changes, due to positive COVID-19, or offering affordable or higher value products to incentivize domestic and international travel.
In the ‘La Palma Declaration’ all parties are urged to adjust their business models to the new global situation and work together to develop new products that drive domestic and international Travel & Tourism, as well as implementing training programs to improve and train tourism workers and SMEs, empowering them with the digital skills needed to adapt to the “new normal.”
Finally, a more inclusive and resilient industry will be promoted by strengthening sustainability practices in tourism.
In opening the conference, Prime Minister Sánchez said: “The priority is to make it possible to restart international travel, and to do so, we must use new tools available, such as more accessible and reliable diagnostic tests, so that international travel ensures safety.”
During his address, he made it clear that we must turn the crisis into an opportunity to modernise the international tourism sector and make it more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable, and to spread wealth better.
The Prime Minister concluded his remarks by saying that a world without COVID-19 is drawing closer, but as this future comes, we have an obligation to mitigate the effects of this crisis on the travel and tourism sector.
WTTC president and CEO, Gloria Guevara observed: “This is an historic meeting, and will be fundamental to restarting international travel through close collaboration that will result in the implementation of key measures that will be necessary to recovery millions of jobs.”
She also highlighted that an international protocol of rapid test at departure is crucial for the sector, and therefore the La Palma Declaration will support in the execution of this and all of the proposals presented by WTTC at the G20 meeting last month.
CEO’s from some of the world’s biggest travel and tourism companies and WTTC Members taking part included: President and CEO Iberia, Javier Sánchez-Prieto; CEO Radisson Hotel Group, Federico J Gonzalez Tejera, CEO TUI, Friedrich Joussen; Founder and Managing Partner Certares, Greg O’Hara; Senior Vice-President Expedia Group, Jean-Philippe Monod.
Ministers taking part in this historic conference included: Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez; President of the Canary Islands, Mr Ángel Víctor Torres; Reyes Maroto, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism; Secretary of State for Tourism for Portugal, Rita Marques; Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage of the UK, Nigel Huddleston; Minister of Tourism and Sports of Argentina, Matías Lammens; Cabinet Secretary for Tourism of Kenya, Najib Balala; Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, H.E. Ahmed Agil AlKhateeb; Regional Minister for Tourism, Industry and Trade of the Autonomous Region of Canary Islands.
Director General and CEO IATA, Alexandre de Juniac IATA, and Secretary General UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, also participated in this important conference.