Leisure Travel a Reality by Summer?
The best news from last week was probably the announcement of the resumption of personal and leisure travel in the second half of 2021 by Mr Alexander de Juniac, director of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This news came right after IATA announced a pilot programme with SIA on travel passes - a transparent platform where passengers’ COVID-19 test results and vaccination status are reflected. The flurry of good news provides a shot of adrenaline to a struggling industry, as previous “good” news which amounted to nothing has left the industry feeling fatigued.
So how do we know if the news from IATA is not just empty talk? The truth is, everything is still up in the air right BUT there is a decent chance that travelling in the second half becomes a reality. Here’s why - 1. Global Rate of Vaccination
The global rate of vaccination has been steadily increasing. As of March 13th, 2.8%* of the world population has received at least one dose of vaccination. Most of the current vaccines (e.g Moderna / Pfizer / AstraZeneca) available require two doses for maximum immunisation. About 1.1% of the entire world population has been fully immunised.
11% of the population in the United States have been FULLY VACCINATED.
3.3% of the population in the European Union have been FULLY VACCINATED.
2.3% of the population in the United Kingdom have been FULLY VACCINATED.
The statistics may seem insignificant now but this number is only expected to increase exponentially in the upcoming months as more vaccines are being approved and manufactured. It is also important to note that some countries e.g China, Australia have yet to provide data on their vaccine status as well.
For daily updates, check out the link here.
2. Reopening Borders
With a drop in global cases, more countries have started reopening their borders. This is especially true for cities and countries dependent on tourism. In Thailand, the country is preparing to reopen by 1st July with vaccinations ramped up in tourism-heavy areas such as Phuket and Krabi. The country is hoping to achieve herd immunity by ensuring at least 70% of its citizens in these areas are vaccinated.
France has also eased its travel rules for seven additional countries - Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the UK. Noting that 6 out of 7 countries are in the APAC region. The fact that countries have begun to slowly reopen their borders shows that there is increased confidence in curbing the spread of the virus and there is a significant slowed rate of global cases around the world.
What to Expect? There is definitely pent-up demand for travelling and during the summer months, there could be a much-needed boost for the travel industry. What can travellers expect in July?
1. Emergence of Travel Bubbles
Travel bubbles may be set up between countries to facilitate hassle-free leisure travel. Analysing the current situation, likely travel bubbles could appear in the APAC region. In fact, Singapore and Australia are currently in talks of one by July. This is expected, even though the above statistics have proved that the world is slowly defeating the virus, measures have to be kept in place to keep complacency at bay. Setting up a travel bubble is a huge milestone and a step in the right direction for travel recovery.
2. Travel Passes
Travellers should get used to this. The top priority now is to allow safe travel to resume and travel passes provide a level of transparency and accountability. Even if travellers have been vaccinated, proper documentation should be provided and reflected. The travel pass allows countries to decide their quarantine programme for different travellers too.
For travellers, travel passes help them to travel worry-free. Travellers can easily obtain information to meet the requirements for their journey and any information will be reflected in the travel pass itself.
COVID-19 will still be here when travel resumes. There is no doubt that governments will approach this cautiously. For travellers, be sure to read up on the laws and restrictions of the country you are visiting. For example, in Singapore, there should not be a gathering of more than 8 people and masks are mandatory when in public places. Travellers should not expect laws to be the same for different countries. Travel responsibly by doing your due diligence! Any lapse in judgement could cause the industry to regress.
To summarise, yes, there is a huge chance of leisure travelling becoming a reality in July and travellers should adjust their expectations - travelling is not going to be the same anymore.