COVID-19 caused havoc in 2020 for the global travel industry. The aviation sector was most affected, with nearly all countries stopping international flights to stop the spread of the virus. Although restrictions have been gradually lifted to allow for easier travel between countries, international air traffic remains at its lowest level since 9/11. Many countries, airlines, and independent agencies are trying to make air travel more convenient.
The COVID-19 passport is a new trend that allows you to travel hassle-free with no paperwork. It digitally stores all your medical records and vaccinations. Emirates recently teamed up with the International Air Transport Association to offer the IATA Travel Pass to its customers.
What is a COVID-19 passport/travel pass? And how do you get one. Here are the answers to your most frequently asked questions.
What is COVID-19 TRAVEL PASSPORT?
It is a mobile app that allows passengers to manage their travel securely and easily in accordance with government requirements. Passengers can use a Travel Pass to create a digital passport to confirm that their vaccinations and pre-travel tests are in compliance with the destination’s requirements. To facilitate travel, they will be able share their test results and vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities.
It also allows travellers to digitally manage their travel documentation and can be used seamlessly throughout their travel experience. The COVID-19 VaccinePassport will be one of the most essential travel documents in 2021.
DESCRIPTION: WHERE HAS THE IDEA COME FROM?
Although it’s not clear who invents Travel Pass to meet future aviation needs, Emirates and other airlines can be credited for launching such a service from the very beginning. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is responsible for the mass appeal of the COVID-19 passport. Zurab Pololikashvili (Secretary General of UNWTO) recently called for universal adoption of vaccination passports to ensure safe return to international travel.
This is not the first time that an additional travel document has been suggested. In the early days of yellow fever vaccination, a Yellow Card was essential proof. This protocol was created 88 years after the International Certificate of Inoculation and Vaccination was first established by The Hague, Netherlands’ International Sanitary Convention for Aerial Navigation. It was later adopted by The World Health Organisation. A travel card is basically a digital version of the Yellow Card.
WHERE ARE THE COUNTRIES THAT HAVE ROLLED-OUT VACCINEPASSPORTS?
Iceland: The Nordic country has issued the first vaccination certificates. A digital certificate is now available to all citizens who have had two doses of vaccine.
Denmark: The Ministry of Health and the Elderly of Denmark has stated that they are creating a “vaccine passport” for Danish travelers who travel to countries where vaccination is mandatory.
Israel: The Green Passport, which allows people who have been vaccinated to travel internationally and participate in large groups, has been launched by Israel’s Health Ministry. It is digital and physical.
Hungary: This Eastern European country is working towards “immunity passports”, which prove that a traveller has not contracted a virus or has antibodies in their bodies.
Greece: Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime Minister, has asked the European Commission for a vaccine certificate to allow easier travel between the two countries.
GLOBAL AGENCIES THAT OFFER TRAVEL PASSES
IATA: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is working with World Health Organisation to create a secure vaccine pass that can be used anywhere. Emirates and IATA have partnered to launch the IATA Travel Pass mobile app to create a digital passport.
CommonPass: CommonPass was launched by The Commons Project and The World Economic Forum, along with a group of private and public partners. CommonPass has been adopted by nearly 2000 airports that are members of the Airport Council International.
AOKPass: The International Chamber of Commerce has begun testing the AOKpass, which allows you to access a digitally authenticated and secure copy of your medical records. Singapore is the first country to test the AOKPass.
CHALLENGES IN IMPLEMENTING COVID-19 PASSPORT
Although the concept of universally implementing travel pass is a good idea, not everyone agrees with the new norm. WTTC has branded mandatory Vaccine Passport discriminatory. WTTC believes that testing travelers before they travel to ensure they are Covid-free would be a better solution.
Gloria Guevara (WTTC President and CEO) stated that priority should be given to the most vulnerable. A blanket vaccination requirement would discriminate against nonvulnerable groups like Generation X, Z, and Millennials. They should be able travel with proof of a negative carbon dioxide test.