The World Tourism Organization (WTO) has called for a vaccine passport to be developed, labeling the concept essential in order for global tourism to restart. The declaration by the WTO followed a meeting of the Global Tourism Crisis Committee in Madrid last week, who met to discuss which measures could be taken in order to safely resume international travel and restart world tourism.
Here’s a look at what is meant by a vaccine passport, why the idea has been deemed controversial by some and a run-through of the benefits that vaccinated travelers can currently enjoy.
Vaccine Passports – What Travelers Should Know
Vaccine passports made headlines this week following the meeting of the Global Tourism Crisis Committee. The secretary-general of the WTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, called for a wider, coordinated approach amongst nations towards certificates and passes for safe cross-border travel, advocating for the development of standardized certification system. There has been some progress made towards developing tools that prove travelers have been tested or vaccinated by several different parties, highlighting the lack of coordination at present.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently entered a partnership with Emirates and Etihad Airways to trial their Travel Pass app on selected flights. The Travel Pass app allows travelers to create a ‘digital passport’, where they can upload both proof of negative Covid-19 tests and vaccination against the virus, sharing the information directly with the airline. It also allows travelers to create a digital passport.
Other carriers, such as Cathay Pacific, Swiss Airlines and United Airlines, have partnered with a company to create the CommonPass app which, like Travel Pass, allows travelers to upload test results and proof of vaccination. Tech company IBM has also gotten in on the act, creating its own test and vaccine record-keeping app called Digital Health Pass.
Whilst the idea of a vaccine passport seems inevitable, the lack of international coordination standardization may prove to be a hindrance in the future, leaving passengers unsure of which app is suitable for which specific carrier or destination.
Vaccine Passport Controversy
Needing travel jabs and inoculations to travel isn’t a new concept, and many travelers will be familiar with needing certain vaccinations to enter different countries. However, the suggestion of a Covid-19 vaccination passport has been a controversial one.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has called the idea discriminatory, citing the fact that if vaccines are compulsory for travel, many will be unable to fly despite being Covid-19 free. The WTTC instead favors the test-and-release scheme, as travel will be more widely available and not just for the vaccinated. The WHO has warned that the world is on the brink of “catastrophic moral failure” should the wealthier nations not assist the poorer ones with their vaccination efforts, therefore any decision to make vaccination a pre-requisite for travel is likely to be condemned.
What Benefits Are There For Vaccinated Travelers?
As the vaccine rollout picks up the pace around the world, more and more benefits are being afforded to those who have had the vaccination already. Some destinations, such as the Seychelles, Cyprus and Romania, now allow quarantine-free travel to those who have been vaccinated, whilst the Australian airline Qantas and British cruise company Saga Cruises will only allow vaccinated passengers to make international trips. As vaccines become further widespread, there are bound to be further easing of restrictions for vaccinated travelers.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories