Mounting frustrations surrounding the ever-changing regional quarantine rules set by states and various countries are causing many tourism associations to call for an end to them altogether.
These groups argue that quarantine measures not only discourage the public from traveling by creating ongoing confusion and uncertainty but that they’re also not the most effective method of curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Patrick Whalen, director of the Niagara Global Tourism Institute, said, "Rather than a blanket cut-off of entire countries and states because they have hot spots, it would be better to test people and enable them to not have to quarantine."
Among the travel industry’s gripes against quarantines is that the parameters for such restrictions are based on formulas that often result in a state’s or nation’s status changing frequently, which in itself acts as a deterrent to travelers.
A growing number of tourism organizations are adding their voices to the argument that rapid, reliable testing and contact-tracing protocols are a far better option for tamping out COVID-19 transmission while enabling the revitalization of the travel sector.
In September, the European Tourism Manifesto alliance, representing 60 organizations, called upon national governments to develop harmonized travel restrictions and replace quarantine with testing and tracing.
According to Travel Weekly, a coalition of over 20 European tourism groups also sent a letter to the European Commission last month, which said, “Extreme travel restrictions—in particular quarantines—are anything but risk-based," and, "They are not an effective way to fight the epidemic." The group claimed that EU governments, "have demonized our industries and what is an integral part of the European way of life. This needs to stop."
In the United States, a coalition of 18 travel trade organizations in September called upon the U.S. government to establish globally-accepted COVID-19 testing protocols to enable international air travel, arguing that proper testing measures could replace quarantines and border closures.
Likewise, Airports Council International and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) made a joint statement this month advocating the implementation of testing so that borders can broadly reopen. Luis Felipe de Oliveira, World Director General of Airports Council, said the groups are, "calling for urgent government action to introduce widespread and coordinated testing of passengers to enable quarantine requirements to be removed. Without this action, it is not an exaggeration that the industry is facing collapse."
American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) CEO Zane Kerby last week said that "while public health is paramount for our members, governments must not ignore the catastrophic economic consequences of the steps they've taken in response to COVID-19."