All travellers should wear protective face masks to show they ‘wear to care’ in the new normal of travelling, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council .

The wearing of face covering helps signal the return of safer travel, while also providing personal protection for users as well as those around them, according to the global organisation as countries relax travel restrictions and coronavirus quarantine rules.

The advice from WTTC in favour of mandatory mask wearing comes from evidence that countries which are recovering faster and avoid second Covid-19 spikes are those where the use of face masks have been widely enforced and encouraged.

Masks should be worn by travellers on all forms of transport throughout the entire journey, as well as when visiting any interior venue or those with restricted movement which results in close personal contact of two metres or less.

WTTC has asked governments worldwide to enforce the wearing of face masks, as well as enlisting the support of the private sector to remind customers of their obligations to protect their health and that of fellow travellers.

Travellers around the world are being encouraged to join in a WTTC social media campaign which is launching with the hashtag #wear2care.

Embracing the use of face masks will reduce the risk of transmission, protect the user and those around them, as well as reintroducing a sense of normality as people learn to live with the virus until a vaccine is found, the organisation said.

Frequent handwashing and using hand sanitiser complement the use of face masks which can significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “The safety and hygiene of travellers and those who work in travel and tourism is of paramount importance, which is why we now strongly recommend masks being mandatory.

“‘Wear to care’ promotes the protection of face mask users and visibly shows they care about the welfare and safety of their fellow travellers, which will help save lives and encourage the return of ‘Safe Travels’.”

However, she added: “The wearing of masks should not be politicised. Wearing a mask needs to become part of everyday life to ensure everyone enjoys travelling in safety until a vaccine for Covid-19 is found. We implore the private sector and global governments to encourage their use so wearing a mask becomes the new normal.”

Ramon Sanchez, principal investigator and research associate at Harvard University, T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: “Wearing face masks has been proven to provide the highest level of protection against transmission at 82%. Constant hand hygiene and surface cleaning, which kills more than 90% of viruses that are found on surfaces, also prevents the virus from reaching the face from the hands.

“The public should keep a two metre distance whenever they can, however if that simply isn’t possible, people should increase the ventilation around them. Inside buildings this can be done by opening doors and windows which decreases the viral concentration by more than 70%.

“Mechanical ventilation, such as air conditioning decreases it by 80%, while going outdoors proves more effective by decreasing the viral concentration between 90% and 95%.”

WTTC has led a series of initiatives designed to rebuild global consumer confidence and encourage the return of Safe Travels.