The boss of Flight Centre has thrown his weight behind a controversial campaign to relaunch international travel with or without a coronavirus vaccine.
Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner has backed calls from The World Travel and Tourism Council, Airports Council International (ACI), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) who all believe international travel should be revived sooner rather than later and that the world cannot wait for a COVID-19 vaccine globally.
“With the right protocols, there should be very little risk,” Mr Turner told the Courier Mail.
“You have gold standard testing that can give results in 10 minutes now and if people have to wait in hotel quarantine for a day or two before getting cleared by a second test, the risk to the population would be very minimal.
“It should not be necessary for the entire tourism industry to wait for widespread vaccination.”
The concept of waiting for a vaccine before reopening international borders, which have been closed since March 2020, has been a contentious topic for the tourism industry.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has already warned that when international travel resumes, passengers who fly with his airline will need to have the vaccine before boarding.
Last month, Mr Joyce said Qantas was looking at ways of changing its terms and conditions for international travellers as the industry looks at ways of moving forward.
“We will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft … for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that’s a necessity,” he told Nine’s A Current Affair.
“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis.”
Mr Turner’s comments come as Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan has been revealed, showing Australians older than 70 will be first in line, while children under the age of 18 are unlikely to receive it in 2021.
The plans, seen by the Herald Sun, show that the nation’s elderly will get the jab just after 800,000 frontline health workers, aged-care workers and the nation’s most vulnerable.
Prisoners, other detention inmates and guards will also be among the first because they are deemed to be at greater risk because of crowded conditions.
But young Aussies hoping to travel overseas will likely have to wait until the end of 2021 to get the vaccine, with the rollout set to focus on the elderly and vulnerable first, with younger Australians last to receive the jab.