OECD Ministers have endorsed a new initiative to promote safe international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic at the
OECD’s annual Ministerial meeting in Paris.
The Initiative involves a safe travel blueprint and a temporary international cross-sectoral forum for knowledge
sharing. The forum will allow governments and stakeholders to share information in real time on plans and approaches
facilitating travel. The blueprint promotes greater certainty, safety and security in travel as reopening takes place.
It builds on existing initiatives and aims to increase interoperability amongst travel regimes. It will be used by
countries on a voluntary basis.
International air passenger transport dropped around 75% in 2020 and international tourism fell by around 80%. For the
average OECD country, pre-pandemic, international tourism contributed 4.4% of GDP, 6.9% of employment, and 21.5% of
service exports, but with much higher shares for some countries, including Greece, Iceland, Mexico, Portugal and Spain.
The halt in international travel and tourism is having a dramatic knock-on impact on the entire, interlinked global
"The OECD is in a unique position to help countries coordinate international action in the context of reopening global
travel," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría at the Ministerial meeting in Paris. “This initiative will help reduce
uncertainty and complexity and enable countries to prepare more effectively for a return to safe international travel
Without an international framework for travel policies, a patchwork of national and regional rules, inconsistent with
each other, will continue to be confusing and costly for travellers and transport and tourism companies, discouraging
travel due to the uncertainty and complexity. It could also increase the incidence of use of fraudulent certificates and
so undermine the ability of authorities to mitigate public health risks.
The OECD Blueprint, initiated by Spain, supports and complements existing international initiatives, such as the
European Union’s proposed ‘Digital COVID-19 Certificate’, by taking a principles-based approach to ensuring that they
are compatible with each other, and adopted in a consistent way across a range of countries.
The Blueprint is a flexible and voluntary set of guidelines not a legal text. It consists of a traffic-light system to
classify risks; guidance on how vaccination should be certified for travel to those countries that decide to take
vaccination status into account; protocols for testing travellers in different circumstances; and principles to be
followed in generating electronic certificates for travel that ensure privacy protection and security and promote
interoperability among systems.
Countries that use the OECD Blueprint may do so unilaterally or in bilateral or multilateral agreements, or through
mechanisms provided in other bodies, such as, in particular the ICAO Public Health Corridor arrangement.