GBTA Calls for Clear and Consistent Approach to Travel Restrictions in Light of the Omicron Variant

As regions and governments around the world assess the potential impact of the fast-emerging omicron variant, and therefore what actions to take, GBTA continues to encourage a clear, consistent and thoughtful approach, especially in terms of keeping country borders open to travelers.

  • GBTA supports that any actions taken should focus on vaccination or recovery status and individual traveler risk, instead broad-reaching travel restrictions or border shutdowns.
  • GBTA also calls for using consistent guidance and protocols worldwide for determining actions that would restrict or ban travel domestically and internationally related to new COVID-19 developments such as omicron and potential future variants.
  • GBTA continues to also strongly encourage governments to take into consideration the difference between business travel and leisure travel, especially when it comes to keeping borders open for international travel and getting back to doing business.  In a recent GBTA survey of business travelers worldwide, 91% said they are fully or partially vaccinated.
  • Current mitigation strategies should continue with regards to air travel, such as increasing vaccination rates, increased availability of vaccines and boosters, testing, and enforced masking  in airports and on flights.

“Travel bans, border closures and quarantines have greatly impacted business travel and therefore the world’s ability to do business. According to GBTA’s recent Business Travel Index, after declining almost 54% in 2020 to $661 billion USD, global business travel expenditures are only expected to rebound 14% in 2021 to $754 billion USD, due to the ongoing pandemic – with some regions such as western Europe seeing a further 3.8% erosion in 2021 compared to 2020.

As we continue to take a long view of COVID-19, the random opening and closing of global borders has not been shown to be neither a factor in mitigating the virus nor sustainable due to increased impacts to economic and supply chain recovery.

We encourage countries and governments to work collectively to pursue consistent policies that avoid new travel bans, and instead to focus on individual traveler risk, increased vaccinations and ongoing testing protocols. The more people who are vaccinated and with appropriate testing protocols in place, the more safely and consistently business travel can return, along with a robust return to doing business,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA.