The cost of travelling abroad is rising rapidly, and experts are calling on governments to invest in new ways to reduce the burden of disease.
A new report by Oxford University warns that if we are to avoid an even greater epidemic of COVID-19, the global travel industry is at risk of losing tens of billions of dollars each year.
The report, called ‘Disease and Travel in 2050: An Update’, found that the global burden of COH-1a alone has risen by more than 50% since 2000.
The cost of travel has grown by 50% in the last decade, with many countries losing more than half of their tourism revenue.
“If we want to avoid COH1a in 2020, the world is going to need to be much more efficient in terms of how it spends its travel revenue,” said Professor Richard Worsley, from the Oxford Centre for Health Systems Research.
“There’s no question that we are losing a lot of money on travel right now, but that is an opportunity to do something about it.”
The cost has grown so dramatically, in fact, that it is now the fourth largest driver of global travel, overtaking motorised transport, the US, the UK and Japan.
Dr Worsly said there was no single cause for the rise in COH2, and it was not just an environmental issue.
“The world’s population is increasing.
We’re seeing more people moving around the world, and we’re going to have to make sure that we protect the environment and we keep the population at a reasonable level,” he said.”
It’s not just about the climate change but also about economic growth.
There is no one factor.”
To reduce the number of CO2-positive travellers, the report recommends that governments and private businesses make sure their travel costs are low.
The travel industry will also need to make better use of air travel, particularly in developing countries.
“We’ve seen an increasing amount of air transport that is taking advantage of low-cost airlines, so air travel is a critical driver of COI,” Professor Wors of Oxford University said.
“It’s an area that governments need to look at and it’s a challenge that they need to take on.”
The report also calls on governments and the private sector to invest more in preventive measures to help combat the rise of CO-related infections.
“People are spending more money on air travel than ever before, but we know there’s no one solution to COH, so what we need to do is invest in preventive healthcare, for example in reducing the amount of blood in your system, or reducing the number and types of infections,” Professor John Beresford from the University of Western Australia said.
“This is a good way to help mitigate the spread of COBV.”
The experts said governments could also improve their response to COVID and offer better support to people who become ill during travel.
“I think the public needs to know that we’re watching this very closely,” Dr Wors said.
The study comes as the World Health Organisation warns that the number two killer of people in the world – respiratory viruses – is not expected to disappear until the year 2050.
In the meantime, the World Travel & Tourism Council has launched a travel initiative called the World Traveller Initiative to support people who are sick or injured while travelling.
“This year’s Global Travel Week is one of the most important opportunities for our communities to work together to get the job done,” said Mark O’Connell from the World Touring and Tourism Council.
“Our members have been working for months to deliver the World-first Global Traveller Health Initiative, and I can’t wait to see what we have in store for 2020.”
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