What we risk when we rush back to travel

What we risk when we rush back to travel
Encouraging people to travel right now is not the best option for tourism’s recovery. | Photo by Jérémy Stenuit on Unsplash

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), 174 million jobs hang in the balance as COVID-19 continues to disrupt the tourism industry as we know it. The WTTC, along with  Airports Council International, the World Economic Forum, and the International Chamber of Commerce released a statement in December about the importance of “starting” travel again without waiting for the rollout of vaccinations across the world.

And, according to my social media feeds, travelers are — by and large — ready to pack their bags and go … if they haven’t already.

Throughout this past year, a lot of emphasis within the tourism industry has been placed on the importance of prioritizing local communities in the “new” version of tourism. Yet, in this rush of getting the industry back on its feet, I’m concerned we’re already turning our backs on that commitment. The industry is on the fast track back to a system built on suppression and oppression of those who are most vulnerable.

In its statement, the WTTC states it “has identified four key measures which need to be implemented to restore international travel safely, including globally recognized testing regimes before departure, common health and hygiene protocols that are aligned with globally-established standards (…) , a risk management regime, and internationally consistent and recognized travel passes.”

“When those who want to travel out of a desire that’s been shaped and reinforced as a need, the tourism industry stands on a razor-sharp edge between the way it used to conduct business and how it claims it wants to build back better.”

This all sounds good in theory, but the ability for and interest by countries to implement these procedures and people to take advantage is a mark of privilege. It requires financial resources, access, and commitment, which further widens the gap between those who have the capability to travel and the potentially vulnerable people living in the destinations where they’re traveling.

This is an excerpt from an article by JoAnna Haugen, originally published on rooted.

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