NEW YORK (AP) — Come visit the Maldives, its president entreated the world at this year’s United Nations General Assembly, moments before switching to an impassioned plea for help combating climate change. The adjacent appeals illustrated a central dilemma for many small island developing states: their livelihoods, or their lives?
The United Nations recognizes 38 member states, scattered across the world’s waters, as small island developing states grouped together because they face “unique social, economic and environmental challenges.”
This bloc is particularly vulnerable to climate change. This bloc is also particularly dependent on tourism — a significant driver of climate change, accountable for 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions alone, according to sustainable tourism expert Stefan Gössling — and an industry devastated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The predicament these islands find themselves in is essentially recursive: Attract tourism for economic survival, which in turn contributes to climate change, which in turn bleaches the colorful reefs and destroys the pristine beaches that attract tourists. As is, by the end of the century, these low-lying islands could drown entirely.
“The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees is a death sentence for the Maldives,” President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih told the U.N. General Assembly last week.
The annual summit is an opportunity for each of the international body’s 193 members to step into the spotlight on the world stage. But the Maldives — perhaps best known globally as an Indian Ocean playground for moneyed honeymooners and Bollywood celebrities — had a particularly high-profile platform this year. Its foreign minister is serving as the General Assembly’s president and Solih was speaking third overall — just after U.S. President Joe Biden.
But the climate change appeals are nothing new, made year after year as these islands are pummeled by storms and the seas rise like a “slow-moving killer,” as Colgate University’s April Baptiste puts it.
Baptiste, a professor of environmental studies as well as Africana and Latin American studies, researches environmental justice in the Caribbean region. She says the island states’ appeals had gone ignored for years because they were essentially seen as “dispensable.” With little land, political power and financial capital, it was easy to overlook their plight. These are also islands with a history of exploitation that dates back centuries and states whose full-time residents — not tourists — are primarily Black and brown.
“You have that layer of race, racism, marginality to take into consideration,” she said. “I absolutely believe that’s at the heart of the conversation as to why small island developing states are not taken seriously.”
People and governments have taken matters into their own hands over recent years.
One man from the island nation of Kiribati sought refugee status in New Zealand on the basis that climate change posed an existential threat to his homeland, though he was eventually deported. This past week, Vanuatu announced it would seek to bring climate change before the International Court of Justice. Although largely symbolic — any ruling would not be legally binding — the move, as intended by the government, seeks to clarify international law.
Last month, a group of Pacific island nations — contending with encroaching saltwater that destroys crops and pollutes freshwater supplies — took the step of declaring their traditional sea boundaries would remain intact, even if their coastlines shrank beneath the waves.
Gössling, a professor at Sweden’s Linnaeus University School of Business and Economics, and Daniel Scott, a geography and environmental management professor at Canada’s University of Waterloo, are two creators of the Climate Change Vulnerability Index for Tourism. With the aim of bringing the issue to policymakers’ attention, they identified the countries with tourism economies most at risk from climate change. The small island developing states made up a substantial portion of the list.
“The Maldives identified this years ago and they pointed out: ’We’re going to continue our tourism development, because that’s the only way we can make money in the next couple decades before our islands are lost,” Scott said.
For the small island developing states, this central climate change tension between lives and livelihood is mirrored in their response to the coronavirus pandemic. To prevent the virus’ spread and save lives, they closed their borders, and their tourism-focused economies were accordingly ravaged over the past 18 months.
Mauritius isn’t wholly dependent on tourism, but that sector does make up a significant amount of its foreign revenue, the permanent representative to the United Nations for the tiny Indian Ocean island east of Madagascar says. Its borders fully reopen in October, and Jagdish Koonjul said Mauritius hopes to attract 650,000 tourists between then and next summer.
Mauritius, Koonjul said, is “very lucky” compared to others in the bloc because of its economic diversification, relatively high land and coral reef that prevents erosion.
But it’s not safe from climate change. Mauritius and other small island developing states are looking to the bigger, more industrialized countries to buy into an ambitious commitment at the upcoming United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.
“We miss this train now, and we are doomed,” Koonjul said.
The scores of speeches at this year’s U.N. General Assembly tended to follow a rubric. They opened with pleasantries directed at the General Assembly’s president and then touched on a laundry list of topics: perhaps a pet issue, but definitely conflict, coronavirus and climate change. The rhetoric often blended together, but the speeches from the leaders of the small island developing states — with the most to lose in the near future — stood out with stark eloquence echoing Koonjul.
“Will Tuvalu remain a member state of the U.N. if it is finally submerged? Who will help us?” asked Kausea Natano, the prime minister of the Pacific Ocean country, on Saturday.
The states had specific asks, including immediate and significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, debt restructuring and financial assistance — especially given the impact of the coronavirus on their tourism-dependent economies.
“Industrialized countries have an obligation to assist the states most affected by climate change because they created a problem in the first instance,” Gaston Browne, prime minister of the Caribbean Sea’s Antigua and Barbuda, said Saturday.
The same day, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves cast the major powers’ actions thus far as little more than “pious mouthings and marginal tinkering.”
“On this, humanity is at the midnight hour. Can we meet the challenge? We may not live to find out the answer if the usual continues,” the Caribbean nation’s premier said.
Salvaging the economic fate of these countries is complex. Baptiste says there’s no overarching policy aimed at retraining people whose livelihoods are vulnerable in new trades.
And Gössling argues that, while they’re not the culprits behind global warming, the small island developing states aren’t directly confronting the friction between climate change prevention measures and their tourism reliance.
“I also think there’s never been serious efforts by the SIDS to actually also consider different economic sectors, because very often it’s been very self-evident that you would focus on tourism, you would develop for tourism and that you, by definition, then almost would become dependent on tourism,” he said. “And I think the strange thing — this conflict has never been vocalized by SIDS.”
What has been vocalized is a clarion call for substantive action taken by rich, developed countries. Now that the ramifications of climate change have reached countries that could long pretend it didn’t exist, the small island developing states hope the message is finally getting through.
The poet John Donne wrote that “no man is an island entire of itself.” In the same vein, Solih drove home the point the island nations have been making for years: “There is no guarantee of survival for any one nation in a world where the Maldives cease to exist.”
The average spend by air visitors to Mexico is up by 6.5% in 2021 compared to the same seven months of 2019.
According to INEGI (Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics, Geography, and Informatics) the average spend by visitors arriving by air to Mexico has increased by 6.5% from US$1,018.09 for the first seven months of 2019 to US$1,084.27 for the first seven months of 2021.
Typically, visitors arriving by air make up 20% of all visitors travelling to Mexico (both by air and by land) but constitute 80% of all tourist spending.
The average spend by air visitors increased substantially in June 2021 (up 24.2%) and in July 2021 (up 14.9%), both compared with the same months of 2019.
The number of visitors arriving by air has shown steady growth since February 2021 and in July Mexico received 1,627,534 visitors arriving by air 94.0% of the 1,731,225 air visitors seen in July 2019.
With the higher average spend per air visitor Mexico saw the total spend by air visitors reach US$1.661 billion in June and US$1.871 billion in July 2021, 6.6% and 8.0% respectively higher than the total spend by air visitors seen in June and July 2019.
While the total spend by air visitors for the first seven months of 2021 was US$8.135 billion, down 34% compared with the US$12.355 billion achieved in the first seven months of 2019, visitor spending is at least trending in a positive direction.
Monthly trip searches were up 70% over the summer compared to earlier in the year according to Expedia Group Media Solutions Q2 Travel Recovery Trend Report, and the company reported seeing positive signals continue into the fall.
For full report click here
Cruise News Update
So is it all going to plan as cruise lines continue to move forward on resuming cruise operations? Well for Carnival Cruise Line it doesn’t seem to be so smooth. We’ve got updates on the next batch of Carnival ships that are restarting, protocol changes from Carnival and Disney Cruise Line.
And even P&O Cruises planning to have two ships in the Caribbean before the end of the year along with a big day for Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which is restarting operations. Plenty to get through.
Five Carnival Ships to Restart Through November and December
So let’s start with the big news from the week with Carnival Cruise Line announcing which ships will be resuming operations through November and December. It’s not all gone to plan as just five Carnival ships will return through the two months. The fleet won’t be fully back in action before the end of the year which was the first hope.
Carnival Valor will follow Carnival Glory in New Orleans with four- and five-night sailings starting on Nov. 1;
Carnival Legend will restart Nov. 14 out of Baltimore, replacing Carnival Pride, which restarts guest operations from Baltimore Sept. 12 and then moves its homeport to Tampa following a Panama Canal repositioning cruise;
Carnival Radiance will have a new maiden voyage date of Dec. 13 out of Long Beach (rescheduled from Nov. 5 due to a revised dry dock transformation plan);
Carnival Pride’s new service from Tampa is scheduled to start on Nov. 14;
Carnival Conquest’s restart from Miami on Oct. 8 has been rescheduled to Dec. 13;
Carnival Sensation’s Oct. 21 restart from Mobile has been moved to Jan. 2022
Five vessels in total will return in 2022, including Carnival Liberty out of Port Canaveral, Carnival Sunshine from Charleston, Carnival Paradise from Tampa, Carnival Ecstasy out of Jacksonville, and Carnival Sensation out of Mobile. That does mean further cancellations as those ships remain on hold longer than expected.
Carnival Splendor and Carnival Spirit, based out of Australia, are to remain on hold through December 16 as the cruise line continues to work with the government on a safe return down under.
Carnival Cruise Line Updates Protocols
Carnival Cruise Line also provides an update on its protocols to align more with recent updates by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and new rapid testing sites at all of its homeports.
The cruise line will continue to follow CDC guidelines to make sure guests and crew remain safe. Guests will have to present proof of vaccination and a negative test at check-in, something which is already in place for current departures.
However, Carnival plans to make it easier by setting up mobile pre-cruise rapid testing sites at all of its homeports. The full details are still to come, but this will make it easier for those struggling to get tested before their cruise.
On August 29, 2021, the CDC updated its Conditional Sailing Order, including adjustments to testing, which now needs to be completed within two days before sailing rather than the previous three days. Carnival now says, “Effective with sailings as of September 13, 2021, the CDC requires pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests to be taken within two days prior to the sailing date. If the sailing is on Saturday, the test may be taken on Thursday and Friday, and as late as Saturday, if you are guaranteed to receive your results in time for check-in.”
Two P&O Cruise Ships to Sail the Caribbean
P&O Cruises plans to have two ships sailing the Caribbean before the end of the year. The cruise line has experienced a hugely successful summer return with the launch of its newest flagship Iona and its popular summer seacations onboard Britannia. The cruise line is ready to expand its cruises and has chosen to do this in the Caribbean with Britannia and Azura.
Britannia will set off on her transatlantic voyage from Southampton in southern England on October 22. The vessel will take 14 days to sail to the Southern Caribbean island of Barbados before she starts the first of a series of 14-day cruises in the Caribbean.
Azura will be the second ship sailing the Caribbean for the UK-based cruise line. Starting December 10, the cruise ship will also be sailing from Barbados on 14-day itineraries that include ports of call such as Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Bonaire, Dominica, and Martinique.
P&O Cruises are not yet sailing with the entire fleet and will not do so this year. Aurora is currently scheduled to return in February of next year and Arcadia is scheduled to return to sailing in March of next year.
Plenty to look forward to and this will be the first chance British cruisers will be able to enjoy a cruise in the Caribbean since the suspension started in 2020.
Disney Wonder Restart Announced
Disney Cruise Line has announced the restart date for Disney Wonder and an update to its protocols. The ship will start operations on October 1 on an itinerary that will feature three-night sailings from San Diego with a stop at Ensenada, Mexico, and a day at sea, while 4-night sailings will feature two days at sea and a stop at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Disney Cruise Line has returned to the U.S. with Disney Dream’s 3- and 4-night itineraries out of Florida. Disney Fantasy will resume on September 11. The cruise line will only be visiting Castaway Cay for the time being with both ships.
However, the recent policy changes from the Bahamian government mean that the cruise line had to require all guests to be vaccinated on cruises to the Bahamas, just like other cruise lines. It’s also due to updated guidelines issued on August 27, 2021, from the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For cruises departing from San Diego in October, Disney Cruise Line now requires all guests of 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated 14 days before boarding. Guests 11 years old and younger do not have to be vaccinated but should provide proof of a negative test. On November 5, Disney Wonder will depart for a 14-day voyage that will take guests through the Panama Canal to Galveston from San Diego. Disney has made some significant changes for this voyage, requiring all guests of all ages to be fully vaccinated.
One more health policy change for guests onboard for cruises to the Bahamas between September 3 and November 1. The Bahamas requires all cruise ship passengers to be fully vaccinated or provide a negative PCR test if 11 years or younger. To comply, Disney Cruise Line has now said that all guests 12 years and older should be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
On and after September 13 all guests of all ages, whether vaccinated or not, are required to take a test administered at the terminal before embarkation.
With so many changes depending on where ships are departing from, do make sure you check the cruise line site for all the details before your cruise so you don’t miss any adjustments.
Oasis of the Seas Restarting Operations
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas is finally restarting cruise operations and will be the first to do so out of the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey. So the cruise ship is departing on September 5 on a seven-night Bahamas sailing including calls at Port Canaveral, Florida; the cruise line’s private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas; and Nassau, also in the Bahamas. The ship will arrive back in New Jersey on September 12.
Oasis of the Seas will continue to sail seven-night Bahamas cruises and will also begin seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Miami in November 2021. Including Oasis of the Seas, 14 Royal Caribbean ships have restarted operations which is more than half the fleet. Liberty fo the Seas will be next with cruises from Galveston, Texas starting on October 3.
Carnival Glory Cruise Cancelled
With Hurricane Ida having a huge impact on New Orleans, Carnival Cruise Line has canceled Carnival Glory’s September 5th departure. The main reason was at the time, the city was still under emergency management and the channel leading towards the cruise terminal remained closed.
Carnival Glory’s first return cruise from New Orleans was scheduled to depart on September 5 on a seven-day voyage, including calls at Bimini, Freeport, and Nassau, all in the Bahamas. The ship will now restart from the Port of New Orleans on Sunday, September 12.
Carnival is allowing impacted guests to transfer to the Carnival Vista sailing departing the Port of Galveston in Texas on Saturday, September 4, 2021. Guests will have to be fully vaccinated to be allowed to transfer. Unfortunately, those under the vaccine exemption won’t be allowed to transfer their booking to the Carnival Vista but are being asked to contact Carnival about their options.
Since the cancellation was first announced, the Carnival Glory has already returned to the port and is currently making preparations for its restart on September 12. That cruise will be a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary with stops at Mahogany Bay, Belize, and Cozumel, along with three sea days. The Conquest-class vessel will become the ninth ship in the fleet to resume operations and the first out of New Orleans since suspensions first began in March 2020.
By Jill Menze, PhocusWire Sep 04, 2021
Travel brands eager to engage with young consumers have for years focused on one key segment: millennials.
Cut to 2021, and many of those consumers -- now climbing in age between 25 and 40 -- are balancing the costs of families and mortgages on top of extracurricular spending.
And while millennials still hold significant spending power, their young-adult status has been eclipsed by a new generation, one that doesn't know a world without internet and will be critical to the travel industry's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
To capture the attention -- and dollars -- of Generation Z, travel providers need to understand how the generation's distinct preferences and attitudes influence their travel planning and spending habits.
The OTA effect
According to Expedia Group, nearly two-thirds of Gen Z travelers, defined as those born between 1997 and 2012, are planning "revenge travel" to make up for lost trips amid the Covid-19 crisis.
To plan their travel, Expedia Group finds that Gen Z consumers are turning to online travel sources, specifically online travel agencies, 31% more than they were prior to the pandemic.
"This very much aligns with Gen Z's position as the first digitally native generation," said Monya Mandich, vice president of Expedia Group Media Solutions Marketing.
"They are frequent mobile users and digital content consumers, so turning to online resources for trip inspiration and planning makes sense with their overall behaviors and preferences, and we expect this reliance on digital will continue in the years ahead."
Similarly, the Phocuswright Research report Gen Z Travelers: A Breed of Their Own revealed that when it comes to planning travel online, Gen Z travelers prefer OTAs for their dynamic packages and loyalty programs.
According to the report, more Gen Z travelers booked air, hotel and car via an OTA than any other online channel like direct websites, metasearch or retail travel agent websites. In fact, more than one in three Gen Z travelers booked a dynamic package in 2020, the highest occurrence of any generation.
Although Gen Z travelers are the least likely to be loyalty members overall (according to Phocuswright, 28% have no travel loyalty memberships), OTA loyalty enrollment is higher among the segment than nearly all other generations: 28% of Gen Z travelers are OTA loyalty members, trailing closely behind an OTA membership rate of 33% among millennials.
Gen Z travelers are also more likely to reach the upper echelons of status in OTA loyalty membership programs compared to their status tiers in frequent flier or hotel loyalty programs.
"Our research has long shown that younger travelers have a stronger affinity to OTAs in general for planning and booking, since they tend to be more price-sensitive and brand-agnostic. Thus, in line with that, they would use the OTAs more to book multiple trips than a single supplier brand," said Phocuswright research director Alice Jong.
Beyond OTAs, Phocuswright found that Gen Z travelers are more open to other intermediary options such as booking via Google or travel subscriptions.
Though their use of Google Travel's booking function is still low compared to other channels, nearly one in 10 Gen Z travelers reserved a hotel room in 2020 through Google's booking function.
Meanwhile, 46% of Gen Z travelers -- who are accustomed to subscription services like Amazon Prime and Netflix -- say they are likely to spend up to $100 annually to join a travel subscription service.
The Gen Z future
Not only do Gen Z travelers have unique planning and booking habits, but they also have distinct travel priorities and preferences.
According to Expedia Group, themes like inclusion and diversity, as well as a growing awareness of sustainability, are an increasingly important part of the travel conversation with younger consumers.
A recent survey from the online travel giant found that three in four Gen Z Americans are looking for the company they book travel through to value diversity and inclusion; Gen Z travelers also want to see the locals in the destination they're visiting value these ideals.
"Showcasing a commitment to inclusivity and sustainability comes down to authenticity and consistency, because consumer expectations in this space are growing, and especially important to younger travelers," Mandich said. "As younger consumers increasingly value inclusion and the industry continues to serve a more diverse customer base, destinations and travel brands must be part of that conversation."
On the sustainability front, a recent Expedia Group Travel Outlook found that Gen Z travelers are leading the charge in sustainable travel (67%) and are much more likely than other generations to consider sustainable travel options at least some of the time and are seeking out travel businesses that prioritize environmentally sustainable practices.
Safety and having unique experiences also top of mind among Gen Z travelers: According to a recent survey from GetYourGuide, 57% of Gen Z travelers said safety is their top concern surrounding travel plans.
Meanwhile, 38% of Gen Z consumers cited unique experiences as having the greatest impact on their favorite vacations. However, they are not budgeting as much for that element of their trip compared to other generations, with just 15% of Gen Z travelers saying they are budgeting $51 to $100 per person for each day of experiences on a trip.
Ultimately, over the past year, Gen Z travelers have "received heightened attention for their massive influence and growing buying power," Mandich said.
"As we think about the future of the travel industry, we have to expand our viewpoints and offerings to reach travelers of all ages and backgrounds, because younger generations are the travelers of today and tomorrow."
Bloomberg February 4, 2021, 5:00 PM AST Updated on February 5, 2021, 4:04 AM AST
As coronavirus vaccines started rolling out late last year, there was a palpable sense of excitement. People began browsing travel websites and airlines grew optimistic about flying again. Ryanair Holdings Plc even launched a “Jab & Go” campaign alongside images of 20-somethings on holiday, drinks in hand.
It’s not working out that way.
For a start, it isn’t clear the vaccines actually stop travelers spreading the disease, even if they’re less likely to catch it themselves. Neither are the shots proven against the more-infectious mutant strains that have startled governments from Australia to the U.K. into closing, rather than opening, borders. An ambitious push by carriers for digital health passports to replace the mandatory quarantines killing travel demand is also fraught with challenges and has yet to win over the World Health Organization.
This bleak reality has pushed back expectations of any meaningful recovery in global travel to 2022. That may be too late to save the many airlines with only a few months of cash remaining. And the delay threatens to kill the careers of hundreds of thousands of pilots, flight crew and airport workers who’ve already been out of work for close to a year. Rather than a return to worldwide connectivity -- one of the economic miracles of the jet era -- prolonged international isolation appears unavoidable.
“It’s very important for people to understand that at the moment, all we know about the vaccines is that they will very effectively reduce your risk of severe disease,” said Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson in Geneva. “We haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating whether or not they stop transmission.”
To be sure, it’s possible a travel rebound will happen on its own -- without the need for vaccine passports. Should jabs start to drive down infection and death rates, governments might gain enough confidence to roll back quarantines and other border curbs, and rely more on passengers’ pre-flight Covid-19 tests.
The United Arab Emirates, for example, has largely done away with entry restrictions, other than the need for a negative test. While U.K. regulators banned Ryanair’s “Jab & Go” ad as misleading, the discount airline’s chief Michael O’Leary still expects almost the entire population of Europe to be inoculated by the end of September. “That’s the point where we are released from these restrictions,” he said. “Short-haul travel will recover strongly and quickly.”
For now though, governments broadly remain skittish about welcoming international visitors and rules change at the slightest hint of trouble. Witness Australia, which slammed shut its borders with New Zealand last month after New Zealand reported one Covid-19 case in the community.
New Zealand and Australia, which have pursued a successful approach aimed at eliminating the virus, have both said their borders won’t fully open this year. Travel bubbles, meanwhile, such as one proposed between the Asian financial hubs of Singapore and Hong Kong, have yet to take hold. France on Sunday tightened rules on international travel while Canada is preparing to impose tougher quarantine measures.
“Air traffic and aviation is really way down the priority list for governments,” said Phil Seymour, president and head of advisory at U.K-based aviation services firm IBA Group Ltd. “It’s going to be a long haul out of this.”
The pace of vaccine rollouts is another sticking point.
While the rate of vaccinations has improved in the U.S. -- the world’s largest air-travel market before the virus struck -- inoculation programs have been far from aviation’s panacea. In some places, they’re just one more thing for people to squabble about. Vaccine nationalism in Europe has dissolved into a rows over supply and who should be protected first. The region is also fractured over whether a jab should be a ticket to unrestricted travel.
It all means a rebound in passenger air traffic “is probably a 2022 thing,” according to Joshua Ng, Singapore-based director at Alton Aviation Consultancy. Long-haul travel may not properly resume until 2023 or 2024, he predicts. The International Air Transport Association said this week that in a worst-case scenario, passenger traffic may only improve by 13% this year. Its official forecast for a 50% rebound was issued in December.
American Airlines Group Inc. on Wednesday warned 13,000 employees they could be laid off, many of them for the second time in six months.
At the end of 2020 “we fully believed that we would be looking at a summer schedule where we’d fly all of our airplanes and need the full strength of our team,” Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker and President Robert Isom told workers. “Regrettably, that is no longer the case.”
The lack of progress is clear in the skies. Commercial flights worldwide as of Feb. 1 wallowed at less than half pre-pandemic levels, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide Ltd. Scheduled services in major markets including the U.K., Brazil, Spain are still falling, the data show.
Persistent Flight Slump
Quarantines that lock up passengers upon arrival for weeks on end remain the great enemy of a real travel rebound. A better alternative, according to IATA, is a digital Travel Pass to store passengers’ vaccine and testing histories, allowing restrictions to be lifted. Many of the world’s largest airlines have rolled out apps from IATA and others, including Singapore Airlines Ltd., Emirates and British Airways.
“We need to be working on as many options as possible,” said Richard Treeves, British Airways’ head of business resilience. “We’re hopeful for integration on those apps and common standards.”
But even IATA recognizes there’s no guarantee every state will adopt its Travel Pass right away, if at all. There’s currently no consensus on vaccine passports within the 27-member European Union, with tourism-dependent countries like Greece and Portugal backing the idea and bigger members including France pushing back.
“We’re going to have a lack of harmony at the beginning,” Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for passenger matters, said at a briefing last month. “None of it is ideal.”
The number of digital vaccine trackers has mushroomed
Product Test or Deployment
Travel Pass Singapore Air, Emirates, Qatar, British Airways
AOKpass Etihad, Alitalia
CommonPass Lufthansa, JetBlue, United, Virgin Atlantic
VeriFLY American, British Airways
Note: Selected airlines
The airline group has called on the WHO to determine that it is safe for inoculated people to fly without quarantining, in a bid to bolster the case for Travel Pass. But the global health body remains unmoved.
“At this point, all we can do is say, yes, you were vaccinated on this date with this vaccine and you had your booster -- if it’s a two-course vaccine -- on this date,” the WHO’s Harris said. “We’re working very hard to get a secure electronic system so people have that information. But at this point, that’s all it is. It’s a record.”
A vaccine passport wouldn’t be able to demonstrate the quality or durability of any protective immunity gleaned from being inoculated, or from being infected with virus naturally, either, Harris said.
“The idea that your natural immunity should be protective and that you could somehow use this as a way of saying ‘I’m good to travel’ is out completely.”
Doubts around vaccines mean aviation’s top priority should be a standardized testing regime, said IBA’s Seymour. This might involve a coronavirus test 72 hours before departure, 24 hours of isolation on arrival, and then another test before being released.
“If this was the world standard, then I think we would all be prepared to start picking holidays and fly away,” he said.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.