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World Travel and Tourism Council
GDHCN will allow seamless verification across borders

Sixty years ago, a catchy tune and a whimsical boat ride debuted at the 1964 World's Fair before moving to Disneyland in 1966. At a time when air travel was still a luxury, its miniature landscapes offered people a glimpse into the world. Americans saw the temples of Thailand and the carnivals of Brazil. "It's a Small World" wasn't just a boat ride; it was a portal for discovery.

That small world has become a reality. Around four billion people fly every year to experience new places, meet loved ones, and do business. Affordable travel has opened up even the most remote corners of the globe. From trekking through the ancient Inca empire to sailing along the glaciers of Antarctica, travel is an integral part of the human experience.

Tourism is also critical to prosperity. Data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) shows that the sector contributes over US$10 trillion dollars to the global economy each year, creates 330 million jobs, fostering cultural exchange and enhancing the understanding on a scale that could only be imagined in a fairground ride 60 years ago. The iconic “Small World” song with its simple yet profound message of harmony reminds us that, despite our differences, all are part of the human family.

Travelers visiting new places and meeting new people has shown that tourism is not just about seeing monuments and sights. It is about understanding different ways of life, appreciating cultures, embracing diversity and celebrating unity.

That is what made the COVID-19 pandemic so disorienting and tragic. Overnight, once vibrant communities became deserted tourist sites, empty airports, and shuttered businesses. The world, so open, was suddenly closed.

While everything is being rebuilt, citizens must ensure that they are not unprepared again. Strong public health infrastructures, well-funded scientific research and a commitment to technology in developing countries. As the Director General of the World Health Organization said, “no one is safe until everyone is safe.

But that's not all. This week, governments from around the world will gather at the World Health Assembly in Geneva. It is an opportunity to create a unified plan - a pandemic treaty - that prioritizes global health and ensures that no one is unprepared for a crisis. Countries must come together to ensure testing, digital vaccination certificates and an equitable distribution of medical resources to keep the people moving during the next catastrophe. And to ensure that health checks are universally aligned, countries must join WHO's Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN), enabling seamless verification across borders.

A pandemic treaty and participation in the GDHCN are essential to ensure the bonds between cultures and people are not just a fantasyland attraction, but the reality no matter what threats emerge.

After all, this is the only way to have a truly interconnected small world.

Jun 05, 2024

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