Travel expert says quarantine threatens tourism restart in the region

Published: 7 July 2020 - 7 a.m.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments across the MEA region to implement alternatives to quarantine on arrival.

According to the IATA, the quarantine rules will stunt the recovery of the travel and tourism industry.

“The region is effectively in complete lockdown with the travel and tourism sector shuttered,” said IATA regional VP for MEA Muhammad Albakri.

The Middle East and Africa region has one of the highest numbers of government-imposed quarantine measures globally, with 36 MEA countries accounting for 40% of all measures.

IATA found in a survey that more than 80% of travellers are unwilling to travel if a quarantine measure is in place. With this in mind, IATA has suggested discouraging symptomatic passengers from travelling; rolling out health screenings and health declaration policies and COVID-19 testing for travellers from ‘higher-risk’ countries.

“Implementing a layered approach should give governments the confidence to open borders without quarantine, and passengers the confidence to fly. Air connectivity is critical to economic and sustainable development in and across AME (MEA),” said Albakri.

IATA’s warnings come as the region’s two aviation largest markets, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are forecast to lose in excess of US$14 billion in revenues this year.

“It is critical that AME (MEA) governments implement alternatives to quarantine measures. [Quarantine] is detrimental in a region where 8.6 million people depend on aviation for their livelihoods," said Albakri.

Where an infected person does travel, authorities must roll out contact tracing to isolate any traveller at risk.

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