A new international travel system is slowly emerging as many countries are looking to open their borders after months of total closure following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recently, the US announced a new international travel system under which fully vaccinated individuals would be allowed to enter the country beginning early November.
But several countries are still adopting different sets of rules for foreigners to enter their territory in the wake of the pandemic that has caused unprecedented disruption.
This is clearly hampering free movement of genuine travellers and reopening of the global opening. International travel shall and can be made easier through mutual recognition of vaccine certificates.
The US announcement lifting travel restrictions to the country from early November for fully vaccinated foreigners is clearly a welcome news – not only for hard-pressed airlines, but for the wider travel and tourism industry, which has been decimated by Covid-19.
Travel bans and quarantines have greatly impacted business travel – a decline in global business travel spending for 2021 is forecast at approximately $550bn.
IATA Director General Willie Walsh said adopting a common set of rules for fully vaccinated travellers will be good for the millions of livelihoods that depend on global tourism. And it will boost global economic recovery by enabling some key business travel markets.
The World Travel & Tourism Council, a forum for the global travel and tourism industry, noted such an initiative will enable families to reunite, business travellers to resume face-to-face meetings and events, and for travel and tourism to return, providing a major boost to these economies.
WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson said: “WTTC strongly advocates for fully vaccinated citizens to be able to travel freely and safely, irrespective of where they’re travelling from.”
A growing number of countries have either removed or modified quarantine or testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers, or announced firm plans to introduce such amended protocols. Industry experts encourage all governments to follow these best-practice examples as part of a risk-based approach to safely reopening borders and restarting international air travel.
The relaxation of certain prevention measures for fully vaccinated people may provide a strong incentive to get vaccinated where vaccine hesitancy is a concern.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in a recent advisory acknowledged that vaccines have demonstrated high levels of protective efficacy against Covid-19 and that the emerging data points to a reduction in transmission of the Sars-COV2 virus. WHO recommends that countries consider a risk-based approach to the facilitation of international travel by lifting measures, such as testing and/or quarantine requirements, for individual travellers who are fully vaccinated, at least two weeks prior to travelling, with Covid-19 vaccines listed by WHO for emergency use or approved by a stringent regulatory authority.
There is now considerable and mounting evidence that vaccination results in a very high levels of reduction in both infection and onward transmission of Covid-19 by vaccinated individuals.
As a result, the importation risk associated with vaccinated travellers is very significantly reduced, relative to non-vaccinated travellers.