Travel mogul’s COVID call ‘unpalatable’
Flight Centre boss Graham Turner has backed a call from some of the world's biggest tourism bodies for the immediate restart of international travel - with or without a coronavirus vaccine.
The World Travel and Tourism Council, Airports Council International (ACI), the World Economic Forum (WEF), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), say the world cannot wait for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and have argued that international travel can be safely managed with stringent protocol.
While some have cautioned against opening borders until vaccines are widely distributed, Mr Turner said people could travel internationally safely with effective controls to stop the spread of the virus.
"With the right protocols, there should be very little risk," he said.
"You have gold standard testing that can give results in 10 minutes now and if people have to wait in hotel quarantine for a day or two before getting cleared by a second test, the risk to the population would be very minimal.
"It should not be necessary for the entire tourism industry to wait for widespread vaccination.
"Even now, the lack of travel between Australia and New Zealand, where there is so little risk, the mind boggles."
However, Gabby Walters, an associate professor of tourism at the University of Queensland, said some countries would not have the resources to follow any suggested steps to keep the virus at bay.
"In a perfect world, these sorts of ideas are great, but I don't think we're ready to just open the borders," she said.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said most Australians would find the concept unpalatable, while governments would also be unlikely to open borders without an effective vaccine.
"It is extremely unlikely we would just throw open the borders to places where infection rates are still quite high," he said.
"As much as we all want international travel to resume, we have to manage our own economy and the freedoms we have won with easing restrictions and the ability to move around domestically, I don't think people will find anything that might jeopardise that to be particularly palatable."
Originally published as Travel mogul's COVID call 'unpalatable'