One of the sectors most affected by the coronavirus pandemic is tourism and all the industries that comprise it, from air, land and maritime transport companies, to hotels, restaurants and local businesses, to the informal economy.
A report issued in 2019 indicated that the previous year this sector had contributed to the world economy with a record figure of US $ 8.8 trillion (US $ 8,800,000,000,000) and 319 million jobs, in a growth rate higher than the of global GDP.
The report is the product of annual research by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on the economic and social impact of that industry.
The WTTC, which represents the global private travel and tourism sector, is concerned about the deterioration of business as a result of local lockdowns, restrictions on entry and exit to countries and other measures to control the spread of covid-19.
Faced with the “catastrophic” situation, in June the WTTC created a Safe Tourism Certificate– a kind of go-ahead in safety and hygiene – with the aim of “restoring the confidence of travelers and reviving” the ailing industry.
“The impact of covid-19 has been devastating and unprecedented,” Gloria Guevara, president and executive director of WTTC in London, tells BBC News Mundo.
“For some countries the tourism sector represents 10% of their economy. And there are some islands in the Caribbean where it contributes more than 50%.”
According to the analysis carried out by the WTTC of the evolution of the current crisis and some of the past – from September 11, until the bank crash of 2008, through the outbreaks of Ebola and SARS – they project that by the end of the year the pandemic will have affected 197 million jobs in the travel and tourism sector and generated losses of US $ 5.5 billion (US $ 5,000,0000,000,000).
But certain lessons were learned from these past crises, one of them the need to generate international protocols to regain the confidence of the traveler, says Guevera. And that’s what the Safe Travel Seal is framed in, he points out.
“These WTTC safe travels protocols have to be the same everywhere. That if I stay in a hotel in London, Mexico or Miami, the experience is the same,” says Guevara.
Thus, he says, the WTTC decided not to wait for governments and define the protocols from the private sector, following the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the recommendations of experts and universities.
And she added the knowledge acquired from her own experiences, she stresses.
“Our hotels – more than 200 – offered rooms to nurses and doctors who treat cases of covid-19 in Madrid, Milan and other places. Despite being exposed to the virus, those facilities were kept free of the disease,” said the director executive.
What organization endorses this safe travel stamp?
Gloria Guevara Manzo, President and CEO of the WTTC (the World Travel and Tourism Council), highlighted that “the Safe Travel Seal has the backing of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and more than 200 CEOs of the main business groups from the sector around the world”.
They highlighted that the WTTC safe travels protocols were developed following the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the support of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in addition from the participation of prestigious universities such as Harvard and Oxford and the support of the global private sector.
The WTTC, which represents the global private travel and tourism sector, was endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and has been accepted by more than 1,200 companies, including some of the major groups tourism in the world, as well as more than 80 tourist destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Portugal and Spain, among others.
WTTC Safe Travels Protocols
With the sum of all this information, the WTTC safe travels protocols were developed for 11 industries, including airports, aviation, hotels, car rental, travel operators, open-air commerce and conventions, so that they adhere to a series of safety standards and hygiene.
These range from guidelines on mask use and consumer tracking to public distancing and the availability of antiviral gels.
According to the WTTC representative, the seal allows travelers to recognize establishments around the world that have adopted the “most rigorous” standardized health and hygiene protocols to avoid contagion.
The original idea was to offer it to private sector establishments and not to destinations, says Guevara, until they were contacted from various countries and destinations requesting the stamp.
“We decided to make an evaluation of these countries and compare their protocols with ours. To those that are at the local private sector level and do not contradict our protocols, we deliver the seal.”
The WTTC has awarded the badge to more than 120 destinations and countries.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, 16 countries have received it, including Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and more recently Guatemala.
It is the local authorities that determine which establishments and sites of tourist interest comply with the biosecurity protocols and send them to the WTTC for them to be granted.
A notable example is the historic Inca sanctuary of Machu Picchu, in Peru, which has just received it.
In other countries such as Mexico and Brazil, the WTTC distributes its Safe Tourism Certificate at the state or regional level, as in the case of the Cancun resort, in the state of Quintana Roo.
Although Mexico is one of the countries in the region with the highest number of coronavirus cases and Brazil the one with the highest contagion in all of Latin America, Guevara affirms that the infection rate does not condition the delivery of stamps.
Countries in Latin America with the WTTC Safe Tourism Certificate
- Costa Rica
- The Savior
- Puerto Rico
- Dominican Republic
The stamp is offered completely free, but the country or destination must make an application, fill out a form, and show they have compatible protocols.
According to Guevara, the reception of the stamp has been “overwhelming”, thanks to the travel agencies that promote it and the response of travelers.
Touring Peru is discovering endless mysterious places, with hidden stories in corners that you may have never seen before stepping on this country. We recommend you to visit another impressive destinations in Cusco like the rainbow mountain tour, the humantay lake tour, or the sacred valley tour, which only takes one day. But if you are gonna to stay more days in Perú, other archaeological places you can know will be the machu picchu day tours from cusco.
Control and audit
Steinmetz clarifies that he has no objection to the guidelines and protocols.
“I read them, they are excellent, they did a great research,” he acknowledges.
“The WTTC comprises the biggest in the industry and they all have an interest in reopening tourism to save their businesses. Naturally, that’s an important part.”
Your doubts come from the control and audit of the destinations that have the Safe Travel Seal.
“That seal is based on complying with a list, but that list is constantly changing,” he stresses.
It also indicates that the issue of monitoring is also problematic, since the control is not carried out on site but with a self-assessment of the same destination.
Gloria Guevara insists that her organization can find out if a country or destination changes its protocols because they have members all over the world. The other source of surveillance is that of the traveler himself, he says, who can comment on social networks and tourism platforms such as Tripadvisor if the protocols were adequate or not. “The worst thing destinations can do is not follow protocols because bad reviews impact their reputation and image.”