BY BEN BILUA
THE World Bank says covid-19 vaccine is the only hope for tourism and travel in the pacific.
Research carried out by World Bank towards end of 2020 states that tourism and travel will continue to slow down unless vaccines are made available to most countries.
It states most countries are experiencing economic downward spiral due to border restrictions which ground both air and sea travels.
The report states that economic activity across the Pacific is expected to be dejected for another 9-18 months.
Though a moderate recovery is projected for this year (2021), production levels will unable to reach pre-COVID19 levels until 2022 and beyond.
The report states, respective governments and partners must step up planning and investment on health development, strengthening testing and tracing so as facilities before proposing a border re-open.
It states a ‘new-normal’ travel arrangements will still face rejection this year as opening up borders will put a huge health risk.
The report states, re-opening travel in the Pacific should be done in phases, but it cautions that relaxing strict border policies alone will not immediately deliver economic benefits.
The three phases suggested by World Bank are;
Phase one (1) January and July 2021: Pre-approved travel for specific groups (more temporary workers, students etc.) Strong testing and quarantine measures would be the foundation for any travel bubble.
Phase two (2) June 2021 and May 2022: A ‘travel bubble’ with commercial flights for business and tourism. This would require sustained COVID-19 containment, improved testing and tracing, and initial roll-out of vaccinations.
Phase three (3) October 2021 and October 2022: A ‘new normal’. Longer term general international travel requiring wide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment with vastly improved testing and tracing.
“To help address this, the World Bank’s second phase of COVID-19 support to the region will focus on helping countries address the economic and social impacts of the pandemic, support businesses, safeguard jobs, and advance the reforms needed to speed recovery towards broad-based and sustainable growth,” said the statement.
Author of the report, Mr Andrew Blackman said the World Bank is committed to support partners across the pacific.