“Governments and those in authority must not seek to choke travel and trade at this time. Closing borders, imposing blanket travel bans and implementing extreme policies are not the answer to stopping the spread of coronavirus,” WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said.
AFP
World tourism body urges nations: Avoid travel bans
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Closing borders, imposing travel bans and other extreme policies will not stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but will choke the travel industry, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said yesterday.

“Governments and those in authority must not seek to choke travel and trade at this time. Closing borders, imposing blanket travel bans and implementing extreme policies are not the answer to stopping the spread of coronavirus,” WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said.

Guevara, former tourism minister of Mexico, has first-hand experience of containing a major contagion, the H1N1 influenza virus in Mexico.

“Past experience shows that taking such extreme action has been ineffective at best. We urge governments to explore fact-based measures, which don’t affect the vast majority of people and businesses for whom travel is essential,” she emphasized.

Guevara called for governments and authorities worldwide not to overreact with disproportionate measures in a bid to control COVID-19.

On the local front, the Philippines is currently implementing a travel ban on China, where the virus originated, as well as on its administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau.

The country also earlier implemented a travel ban on Taiwan, which it eventually lifted following protests from Taipei and Filipino workers.

Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) president Jose Clemente III said plans to ban travel should be carefully studied.

“At this point, we have to study this very carefully as there may be some adverse ramifications if this is done haphazardly,” Clemente said earlier.

South Korea has been the country’s top source market of foreign arrivals since 2010. In 2019, the Philippines registered a total of 1.98 million arrivals from Korea, a 22.48 percent increase from the year before.

“We need to proceed with caution but maintain the safety of our country as well,” Clemente said.

“Perhaps we need to look at how other countries are dealing with this situation and see if we can strike a balance between safety and maintaining good relations with South Korea,” he added.

In an email, WTTC vice president for policy Tiffany Misrahi reiterated the World Health Organization (WHO)’s call on countries to not impose travel restrictions.

“Evidence from previous outbreaks indicates that travel restrictions directed at individual countries are unlikely to keep the virus out of a nation’s borders,” Misrahi told The STAR.

“Closing borders, blanket travel bans and more extreme government policies may in fact exacerbate the epidemic’s social and economic tolls – making us less safe as a travel ban may actually discourage people from coming forward and being transparent about their systems and behaviors,” she added.

Data from the WTTC show that among 33 countries, only 16 percent reported cases of COVID-19, with a majority of affected patients having fully recovered.

The organization emphasized that COVID-19 has a lower mortality rate than previous viral outbreaks such as SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2012.

“Millions of people are continuing to travel throughout the world on a daily basis, whether taking flights, cruises, rail journeys or driving,” the WTTC said.

“One death is one too many from any virus but now is not the time to panic,” Guevara said.

“We understand there is huge concern about COVID-19. However, it’s important to remember that fatality rates remain very low and the chances of contracting the virus, for the vast majority of people, are very remote if they travel responsibly and observe simple hygiene measures,” Guevara maintained.

GLORIA GUEVARA JOSE CLEMENTE III TCP
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Recommended
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with