International Covid-19 test protocols for departing international passengers at airports, which could ease the slump in air travel, are expected to be ready within four weeks, according to the chief of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Air corridors between London-Dubai and London-New York are ready for testing the international protocols, but still require government coordination, Gloria Manzo Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive, said on Monday during the Future Hospitality Summit held online.
"We need to have an international testing protocol which is doable but we need to do that ASAP," Ms Guevara said. "We hope that in four weeks we can have international protocols, actually we needed them for yesterday."
Lack of unified standards and coordination between countries on Covid-19 testing is complicating the travel and tourism industry's recovery. The WTTC's urgent call for common standards on testing comes as airlines face a bleak winter season that will stretch their cash reserves and test their survival amid a second and third waves of Covid-19 infections.
The International Air Transport Association, an industry body representing some 280 airlines, urged governments to adopt Covid-19 testing prior to flight departures and to lift travel restrictions such as quarantine measures that are hurting travel demand.
"We are safety maniacs in our industry, so if we propose a system, you can be sure it's safe," Alexandre de Juniac, Iata's director general, said during the summit.
Mr de Juniac reiterated the need for fresh government support for carriers to help them cope with the "catastrophic" magnitude of the Covid-19 crisis, warning of further airline bankruptcies in the future.
"The sector in the near term should be smaller with fewer number of players," he said.
The global tourism industry may recover as soon as 2022 or as late as 2025, depending on scenarios where the virus is contained or resurges, Alex Dichter, senior partner at McKinsey & Company, said during the event.
Earlier this month, the WTTC proposed a plan to restart international travel and tourism and restore100 million jobs globally. The plan was presented during the meeting of G20 tourism ministers, 45 company CEOs and members of WTTC.
The 100 million travel and tourism jobs can be recovered within 18 months if international travel resumes and governments work together, Ms Guevara said.