Chairman of the TRIP Group (Travel Risk Incident Prevention) and travel risk expert Lloyd Figgins believes business travellers are the perfect group to trial an exemption to quarantine rules in the UK and help to build consumer confidence in commercial travel and tourism once again.
He explains: "Business travellers offer the opportunity to not only be the pioneers for a return to mainstream travel, but also to help restart the international economy. They and their employers are in a unique position and this could be used to help regenerate the industry.
"Rather than looking at the situation from a commercial perspective, what's actually required is a risk management approach to getting people travelling again and that's where the business travel industry comes into play. Any return to international travel needs to be staged and thoroughly risk assessed in order that travellers and the public, both at home and abroad, can be best protected.
But what is it about business travellers that makes them different to tourists?
- Business travellers would need to be granted exemptions from quarantine in the destination country, in the same way that truck drivers are currently exempt travelling between the UK and France. However, where possible, upon their return from a business trip, they would work from home for 14 days. This will help ensure the safety of those non-travelling staff working in the same office.
- Employers have the opportunity to create robust Travel Risk Management (TRM) procedures that should include strategies to keep their travelling employees safe. These would include mandating the provision and use of PPE, training on safety protocols, transport provision upon arrival at the destination country, accommodation and meeting-place safety.
- In the initial stages of any such trial, the numbers of those travelling would be relatively low. This would allow authorities at ports to establish and trial health and security systems for when volume increases.
- Health monitoring of travellers would be done by employers through their HR and Occupational Health Departments and they would also be responsible for ensuring there's informed consent and that staff are not travelling against their will. They also have the ability to set help health hotlines through specialist providers.
- Testing kits could be provided to business travellers to help monitor their health, prior to travel, during travel and when they get home. This would allow them to recognise quickly if they need professional medical attention. These kits are available to employers now and would need to form part of a travel risk management plan.
- Immunity passports would then follow for those who have been tested and are free of the virus. These would need to be shown to authorities in the same way that Yellow Fever certificates are required in certain countries around the world.
Clive Wrattan, Chief Executive of the British Travel Association agrees that exceptions need to be made to the 14-day quarantine rule to get business travel moving again, he said: "Business travel would normally contribute £600M a day to UK GDP, the current 14-day quarantine makes this impossible. We want the industry and government to come together to quickly find a workable solution that safeguards health and promotes economic growth. Creating a travel risk system is a great step towards combining these forces."
The business travel industry could well hold the key to consumers taking their next holiday. Governments need to agree on entry requirements and the threat of quarantine needs to be waived for business travellers where possible. The gateway to consumer confidence lies in creating a robust travel risk management system and allowing business travellers to demonstrate it works.
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