As news of widespread coronavirus vaccines on the horizon begins to sink in, travel operators have this week been exploring new safeguards to prevent the risk of further COVID-19 outbreaks and speed up the recovery of the travel industry.
One of these safeguards is the development of so-called ‘COVID passports’, which will enable passengers to quickly and easily demonstrate they are coronavirus-free. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed it is working on its own version called Travel Pass, a mobile app that will display details including COVID-19 test results and proof of inoculation. AirAsia has also launched its Scan2Fly digital health pass, allowing users to scan and upload medical certificates for online check-in.
This technology could soon become the norm among travellers on Qantas flights. In an interview, the airline’s chief executive, Alan Joyce, said once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, Qantas will start asking passengers for proof of having taken the jab before they are allowed to board its aircraft. Other airlines including Korean Air and Air New Zealand are also looking to introduce similar policies, according to an Aljazeera report, but both groups stressed this will be a result of coordination with governments and authorities.
In the UK, a report from the government’s new Global Taskforce on Travel has recommended quarantine exemption for international business travellers making short term visits to the region. It suggested those making trips of one to three days “would not be required to self-isolate if undertaking business related activity only”. In related news, passengers arriving in England will soon have the option to shorten the mandatory two-week self-isolation period by taking a COVID-19 test. Visitors with a negative result after five days of self-isolation will be released from further quarantine.
And finally, India has launched its very first virtual travel holiday store this month, courtesy of Thomas Cook India. The new service will see a team of travel experts provide holiday advice via video chat 365 days a year, covering everything from visa services to travel insurance. Thomas Cook India said the virtual store “aims at supporting our customers with safe/contactless and convenient holiday planning”.