Travel pass

IATA’s digital Covid Travel Pass could trigger a significant upturn in international travel

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said its Covid digital travel pass would be ready “in a matter of weeks.” The pass, in the form of a mobile app, is expected to ease the severity of travel restrictions and quarantine measures while boosting travelers’ confidence.

Pass should bolster recovery efforts

The IATA Travel Pass is not the golden ticket for an instant trade-in for the global travel industry, but it will undoubtedly be useful. According to GlobalData, international air arrivals declined 48.1% year-over-year (year-over-year) in 2020. Due to this unprecedented drop in demand, which has now continued into early 2021, testing, the current vaccination tracing and deployments will have to continue in parallel with the implementation of the Covid digital Travel Pass in order to ensure a strong and sustainable recovery.

International travel is a possibility this summer, and the successful deployment of vaccines could allow short-haul travel to resume between many economically developed countries. However, low traveler confidence can still prevent many from traveling. According to GlobalData’s Week 11 COVID-19 recovery survey (fieldwork undertaken December 2-6, 2020), 52% of people surveyed globally said they were “somewhat” or “extremely” Concerned about restrictions on international travel, the IATA Travel Pass should help allay these ongoing apprehensions. The app confirms whether a passenger has undergone the appropriate Covid-19 tests or vaccines required to enter a country. This will ensure travelers that there will be no unpleasant surprises when they enter the destination, such as movement restrictions.

Etihad, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Air New Zealand are some of the airlines currently testing the Travel Pass. IATA said it was discussing the pass with most airlines in the Asia-Pacific region. It is likely that all airlines approached will join this initiative as it is seen as something that will strengthen and accelerate the recovery, which has obvious benefits for them.

Application deployment may encounter obstacles

Global rollout of the app could be difficult, some governments’ insistence on paper documentation for proof of vaccination or negative test means that some persuasion may be needed for specific countries. Additionally, deploying apps might be difficult in developing countries where levels of smartphone ownership may not be as high as in developed countries. This could mean that the deployment is seen as something that increases global inequalities in terms of which nations can and cannot travel freely.

While obstacles are present, the rollout of a Covid digital travel pass will benefit the global travel industry and increase the likelihood of a significant start to recovery in 2021.

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