Collaboration between business and governments is vital to develop new health protocols to reassure the travelling public, says the World Travel and Tourism Council.

In a plan for a post-pandemic “new normal”, the WTTC says the sector will face a gradual return over the coming months before a vaccine becomes available to inoculate billions of people.

The WTTC expects travel to return to domestic markets first, then to countries’ nearest neighbours before expanding across regions and finally across continents as long-haul travel returns.

Travellers in the 18-35 age group may be among the first to begin travelling once again, it predicted.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and chief executive, said: “It is vital for the survival of the travel and tourism sector that we work together and map out the road to recovery, through coordinated actions, and offer the reassurance people need to begin travelling once again.

“We have learned from past experiences that when the protocols from private sector are taken into account and we have a coordinated approach the recovery timeframe is significantly reduced, so the private-public sector collaboration is crucial.

“We should avoid new, unnecessary procedures that create bottle necks and slow down the recovery. However, a quick and effective restart of travel will only happen if governments around the world agree to a common set of health protocols developed by the private sector, such as those we’ve outlined.

“These must provide the reassurance travellers and authorities need, using new technology, to offer hassle-free, pre-vaccine ‘new normal’ travel in the short term.”

Protocols are being defined following conversations with WTTC members and collaboration associations representing different travel sectors, including airlines, cruise lines and destinations.

They will include hygiene standards in hotels, check-in protocols at airports including Covid-19 testing, and enhanced cleaning on board cruise ships and aircraft.

Protocols have been developed using experience from China’s initial recovery and from retailers, and will be fully announced in the next two weeks.