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WTTC Outlines What ‘The New Normal’ Will Look Like for Travel

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has outlined what the ‘new normal’ will look like as countries begin to end their COVID-19 lockdowns and ease travel restrictions.

‘Travelling in the New Normal’ is part of WTTC’s plan which includes critical steps and coordinated actions, including new standards and protocols, which offer a safe and responsible road to recovery for the global travel and tourism sector as consumers start planning trips again.

For the last few weeks, WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, has been marshalling the efforts of the private sector, sharing best practices from different regions around the world to work on the path forward.

Public-private collaboration between business and governments is vital to develop new health protocols which will form the travel experience and also provide people with strong reassurances when travelling.

WTTC says the sector will face a gradual return to travel over the coming months as a ‘new normal’ emerges before a vaccine becomes available on a mass scale, large enough to inoculate billions of people.

Travel is likely to return first to domestic markets with staycations; then to a country’s nearest neighbours before expanding across regions, and then finally across continents to welcome the return of journeys to long-haul international destinations.

WTTC believes younger travellers in the 18-35 age group, who appear to be less vulnerable to COVID-19, may also be among the first to begin travelling once again.

The new protocols and standards are being defined following feedback and multiple conversations with WTTC Members, as well collaboration from associations who represent the different travel sectors.


To offer world-class cleanliness, improved hygiene standards and ensure guest safety, hotels are developing protocols based on learnings from offering free rooms to frontline healthcare workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

There will be new protocols for check-in involving digital technology; hand sanitiser stations at frequent points including where luggage is stored; contactless payment instead of cash; using stairs more often than lifts where the two metre rule can be harder to maintain; and fitness equipment being moved for greater separation among other examples.

Cruise operators will take further measures to ensure ships are free of COVID-19 including staff wearing gloves at all times which are then frequently changed; and more frequent room cleaning.

Travellers at airports will find themselves tested before they fly and upon arrival at their destination airport. They can expect to see social distancing measures at the airport and during boarding, as well as wearing masks while onboard.

Aircraft will also be subject to intensive cleansing regimes. These measures will be combined with contact-tracing, via mobile app, that will allow flights to leave airports COVID-19-free.

The protocols, which have been developed using experience from China’s initial recovery and from new successful standards used by retailers, will be fully announced in the next two weeks and shared with governments globally, so there is a coordinated approach to travelling within the COVID-19 world.