The restoration of "air corridors" between the world’s top financial centers is vital to reviving international business travel and help kickstart the global economic recovery, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). It is crucial that international business travel resumes, following its near collapse due to the coronavirus pandemic, it adds.
WTTC is calling for the introduction of a pilot scheme, involving airport-based testing, followed by a second test just days later, for travel between the financial hubs of New York and London, with the aim of restarting business travel.
An analysis of Public Health England’s data by WTTC suggests two tests in quick succession could be 80 percent effective in identifying passengers with COVID-19 (coronavirus), and, thus, reduces the quarantine period from 14 days down to between four and six days—or no quarantine at all.
Each year, inbound international business travel accounts for more than $272 billion globally. While leisure travel makes up the bulk of international travel and tourism spend (83.77 percent), inbound international business travel (at 16.23 percent) is relied upon heavily by many international airlines, which depend upon frequent flying business travelers, especially on highly competitive routes across the Atlantic, for their profits.
The restoration of international business travel across the Atlantic could benefit the entire travel and tourism sector; from airlines and hotels to travel management companies and ground transport providers, reviving tens of thousands of jobs and a multitude of companies which depend upon business travel for their survival. WTTC adds, however, this will only happen if the government takes a targeted approach, ditching blunt country-wide quarantines which have a devastating economic impact.
Beyond New York and London, other key cities might include Toronto, Paris, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Of the G20 countries, the U.S. had the highest international business travel spend in 2019, at $47.75 billion. Germany was second with $12.8 billion, followed by China with $10.7 billion, the U.K. with $9.5 billion and Russia at $8.6 billion. Last week, WTTC revealed a staggering $155 billion—or $425 million a day—could be lost from the U.S economy, due to the collapse of international travel during 2020. International visitor spending was predicted to plunge by 79 percent compared to 2019 levels, putting 12.1 million U.S. travel and tourism jobs at direct risk of being lost in a "worst case" scenario mapped out by WTTC economic modeling.