Why Tourism Needs to Step Up and Push for Vaccine Equity

Nov 5, 2021

no vaccine access for all? No tourism recovery. It's playing out already, with more lives being lost senselessly.

The travel industry should act fast and figure out how it can be part of the solution.

In March 2020, when the world stood still and countries sealed borders, it was impossible to imagine vaccines emerging by year-end.

The global travel industry might not have believed that traveler demand would begin manifesting in 2021 and in some cases surpass 2019 levels.

Science is not only bringing the travel recovery to a restart this year, but it is also saving millions of lives — in spite of the over three million lost globally

over the last year. The power of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines is being witnessed in the U.S., for example, where travel began

showing signs of recovery the first week of April.

As of this month, 60 percent of Americans are unafraid to hit the road again, a pandemic survey high, according to Longwoods International’s just-released data. Europe is also preparing to reopen after more than a year of isolation.

And yet as we speak, Covid is raging violently in a scenario the travel industry never imagined would repeat itself so soon post-vaccines — in India, but also spiking to varying degrees in places such as Thailand, Turkey, and Costa Rica.

That’s because vaccinations are lagging at a global level, particularly in low to middle-income nations.

The tourism industry, at global and granular levels, must speak up about vaccine equity louder than it has and take on a bigger role in tackling the issue if the industry is to return to any sense of normality. Without vaccine equity, there is no travel recovery.

Scientists had warned that for the threat of Covid to disappear, vaccine distribution and access must accelerate because of the potential for more dangerous and infectious Covid variants to emerge.

Over 100 former heads of state and Nobel Peace Prize winners also recently sent a letter to the Biden Administration urging for the release of vaccine intellectual property rights so as to accelerate manufacturing and access worldwide.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) briefly touched on this effort in an interview of former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, during the WTTC 2021 summit in Mexico.

“It’s entirely possible that a future mutation could become even more deadly, and so we’re in a bit of a race to get the world vaccinated before the mutations become a problem,” said Dr. Michael Gusmano, professor at Rutgers School of Public Health.

Deadlier Covid variants are already here — all pointing to the urgent need for the industry to get past the “vaccine tourism” headlines and stand up for the root problem that could decimate the industry all over again: vaccine equity.

Vaccine Equity Woes Will Delay Recovery

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