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Now it comes down to prevention

© Luke Richardson

Expert discuss resilience at the ITB Berlin NOW Convention

A lasting recovery, and not only by the tourism industry, depends to a decisive extent on prevention if damage caused by the virus on a massive, global scale is to be avoided. This was unanimously agreed by the government representatives and experts who took part in a panel discussion at the ITB Berlin NOW Convention on the subject of resilience.

Considering the unexpectedly severe impact of coronavirus on the international community it is remarkable that the assistance provided is only now beginning to take effect, said Dan Richards, founder and CEO of the US company Global Rescue, which coordinates and supports international relief measures. He compared the situation with a snake that has swallowed a basketball. “It takes a while before the ball has passed through the snake’s body.” Although emergency assistance is essential, preventing the same thing from happening again is equally important. Richards recommended setting up an international task force that would be politically independent, to provide early identification of any possible hotspots and render them harmless. He also called for the significantly increased deployment of existing technological possibilities for identifying “the enemy”, for example at airports.

The president of the World Tourism Council WTTC, Gloria Guevara, concurred and called on governments to support this concept. It is not a question of whether, but of when the next virus appears, she said. Preparations must be put in place beforehand. Najib Balala, secretary of state at the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism, emphasised that international coordination must also include standardised and coherent action to meet the needs of each individual. The population as a whole cannot understand why, in some places, people who have already received two vaccinations still have to undergo PCR tests as an entry requirement or prior to participating in various activities.

Balala pointed out that world health and environmental issues have been neglected in the past in the fight against terrorism. Along with the minister of foreign trade of Bosnian-Herzegovina, Stasa Kosarac, he also complained about a lack of solidarity in the distribution of vaccines. “It does not help if the vaccine has been administered to 100 per cent of the population of the United Kingdom and to hardly anyone in poorer countries”, Balala said.

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