GBTA joins fight for more testing

By Bev Fearis, published 05/08/20

The Global Business Travel Association has added its voice to calls for widespread passenger testing to replace the current chaos of quarantines and border closures in Europe.

As the travel industry braces for a possible second wave of Covid-19, it said sudden shifts in government response is taking a heavy toll on the travel industry.

The association’s new Executive Director, Dave Hilfman, said these are only impeding economic recovery and causing chaos for travellers.

“Increased testing is what we need to restart travel safely,” he said. “It will restore confidence and revive travel demand whilst preventing new waves of infection. Borders cannot stay closed indefinitely; the economy needs trade to resume with people back to work and travelling.”

The GBTA said if passengers were required to present negative Covid-19 test results before boarding it would offer additional certainty.

But it conceded that this would only be possible if Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) nasal swab tests were freely and widely available.

Some EU governments have already pledged to make Covid-19 testing obligatory for travellers from a definite number of countries.

The GBTA said that although it understands these unilateral decisions, there should be a coordinated approach on testing at EU level.

“The European Commission should work with EU governments to unlock appropriate funding to expand testing capacity, improve the accuracy of data and speed of information sharing,” added Hilfman. “This is a pre-requisite to resurrecting travel and accelerate Europe’s economic recovery.”

Last week, the CEO of Heathrow Airport said pre-flight Covid-19 testing for passengers from high-risk countries is vital and said the UK is lagging behind other European countries (read story).

The World Travel and Tourism Council believes the implementation of a rapid test and trace strategy is critical for the travel sector and this week renewed its call for greater and sustained collaboration between public and private sectors to ensure a standardised, global approach to the crisis.