Passionate plea to save travel

It’s not a great time for travel.

But it’s not something we should be giving up on.

You will no doubt have seen the news dropped this week from the Qantas Group, Virgin Australia and a slew of cruise lines.

All are suspending operations. So, no international flights, little to no cruises, very few domestic flights and most importantly, no jobs for tens of thousands who work in the travel and hospitality industry in Australia alone. That number globally? Try somewhere in the vicinity of 50 million, reports Travel Weekly.

In response to this, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has written an open letter to governments calling for support to save the travel industry that has already been devastated and only seems to be facing even more difficult times ahead.

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No one can doubt that we are in uncharted territory. The coronavirus pandemic means the world is facing a threat on multiple fronts not seen in peacetime.

The travel and tourism sector is uniquely exposed, and we estimate 50 million jobs globally are at risk. To put it bluntly, travel and tourism is in a fight for survival.

Travel is the backbone of economies around the world. It brings in essential currency and inward investment, creates jobs and stimulates every sector. WTTC figures show travel and tourism contributes to 10.4 per cent of global GDP and 320 million jobs. It is responsible for creating one in five new jobs and, for eight successive years, has outpaced the growth of the global economy.

Without travel and tourism, economies around the world face an existential threat.

To counter this, WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, is calling upon governments of all countries to take immediate action to help ensure the survival of this critical job-creating sector.

Not soon. Not in a few weeks. Now. Any delay will be costed in millions of lost jobs and almost incalculable damage worldwide.

Now is the time to take action. We propose three vital measures which will protect the survival of the millions of people who rely on travel and tourism for their livelihoods and welfare in the turbulent weeks and months ahead:

Firstly, financial help must be granted to protect the incomes of the millions of workers in the sector facing severe economic difficulties.

Secondly, governments must extend vital, unlimited interest-free loans to global travel and tourism companies as well as the millions of small and medium-sized businesses as a stimulus to prevent them from collapse.

Thirdly, all government taxes, dues and financial demands on the travel sector need to be waived with immediate effect at least for the next 12 months.

Travel and tourism companies are playing their part to protect their employees.

We propose three vital measures, which in addition to recovery funds, will protect a sector which is already facing collapse.

We are calling upon the world to take urgent and immediate action to prevent this global health crisis becoming a worldwide economic catastrophe. Doing nothing is not an option.

We implore every government to take drastic and decisive action now to preserve and protect the contribution of the travel and tourism sector, on which more than 320 million people and their families depend on for their livelihoods.

Yours sincerely,

Gloria Guevara, president and CEO, WTTC

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Will you still travel throughout this crisis? What are your travel plans? What sort of travel will you do now that international travel is effectively off the table?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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