Published on : Wednesday, June 2, 2021
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ministers has recently endorsed a new initiative to promote safe international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative involves a safe travel blueprint and a temporary international cross-sectoral forum for knowledge sharing.
The forum will allow governments and stakeholders to share information in real time on plans and approaches facilitating travel. The blueprint promotes greater certainty, safety and security in travel as reopening takes place. It builds on existing initiatives and aims to increase interoperability among travel regimes.
International air passenger transport dropped around 75 per cent in 2020 and international tourism fell by around 80 per cent. For the average OECD country, pre-pandemic international tourism contributed 4.4 per cent of GDP, 6.9 per cent of employment, and 21.5 per cent of service exports, but with much higher shares for some countries, including Greece, Iceland, Mexico, Portugal and Spain.
The halt in international travel and tourism is having a drastic impact on the entire, interlinked global economy. Without an international framework for travel policies, a patchwork of national and regional rules that are inconsistent with each other will continue to be confusing and costly for travellers, transport and tourism companies, and discourage travelling due to the uncertainty and complexity.
It could also increase the incidence of use of fraudulent certificates and undermine the ability of authorities to mitigate public health risks. There the blueprint will act as a flexible and voluntary set of guidelines and not a legal text.
It consists of a traffic-light system to classify risks, guidance on how vaccination should be certified for travel to those countries that decide to take vaccination status into account, protocols for testing travellers in different circumstances, and principles to be followed in generating electronic certificates for travel that ensure privacy protection and security and promote interoperability among systems.
Angel Gurria, Secretary General, OECD said in a statement that the organisation is in a unique position to help countries coordinate international action in the context of reopening global travel. He mentioned that the initiative will help reduce uncertainty and complexity and enable countries to prepare more effectively for a return to safe international travel and tourism.