Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the agreement by the G20 Tourism Ministers to support the safe restoration of mobility by following the G20 Rome Guidelines for the Future of Tourism. IATA urged G20 governments to quickly follow up their endorsement of the guidelines with actions, particularly the five-point agenda to safely restore mobility:
- Sharing information among industry and governments to inform policies and decisions to ensure safe mobility.
- Agreeing common international approaches to COVID-19 testing, vaccination, certification and information.
- Promoting digital traveler identity, biometrics and contactless transactions for safe and seamless travel.
- Providing accessible, consistent, clear and updated information to travelers to encourage and facilitate travel planning and journeys.
- Maintaining and improving the connectivity, safety and sustainability of transport systems.
“The G20 has the right focus and agenda to restart travel and tourism. The combination of vaccinations and testing are the drivers to make travel broadly and safely accessible. Moreover, Prime Minister Draghi’s promise that Italy is ready to welcome back the world and encouragement to book holidays should be an inspiration to other world leaders. It captures the urgency that is needed to move forward quickly and safely in restoring the freedom to travel,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.
The emphasis on information sharing, working together to implement practical processes, and data-driven policies are particularly welcome. These are the basis for managing the risks of COVID-19 as we move towards normality.
“The G20’s call for a combined effort of industry and governments to share information moves us towards the risk management framework that is needed for a restart. No industry knows better that safety is paramount than aviation. Effective risk -management—based on evidence, data, and facts—underpins everything airlines do, and it is a core aviation competency that can help governments safely reopen borders. Over a year into the crisis, and with six months of experience with vaccines, data exists to support the targeted measures that the G20 is aiming for. Using data to guide restart plans should gain impetus from the G20 action plan,” said Walsh.
Aviation Getting Ready
The aviation industry is already making critical progress to be ready.
- The IATA Travel Pass responds exactly to the need for reliable testing and vaccination certificates verified against the traveler’s itinerary. This will be particularly useful in furthering the recommendation for digital solutions. IATA Travel Pass will help prevent fraud and provide a framework for airlines to securely and efficiently manage COVID-19 travel credentials that governments could easily tap into. With aver a billion doses of the vaccine administered already and a growing number of countries welcoming vaccinated travelers, a system to globally recognize digital vaccine certificates is becoming even more critical.
- The UNWTO/IATA Destination Tracker will give travelers the confidence to plan travel knowing the measures that are in place and requirements to travel.
The G20 agreements add important support to the building momentum to restore travel. Developments in recent weeks include the following:
- A travel bubble opened between Australia and New Zealand
- The European Commission and the European Parliament each announced efforts to welcome vaccinated travelers, and travelers from low-incidence countries to Europe
- The UK is pursuing the gradual resumption of international travel from 17 May
- Italy announced it was planning to implement the European ‘Green Certificate’ in May to facilitate opening borders, and
- France is planning to reopen its borders to international tourists with a “health pass” from 9 June.
“While these are all important steps that build momentum towards re-opening the travel and tourism sector, we need more. People want to fly and exercise the freedom to travel that has been denied by government restrictions. But expensive testing requirements will make travel unaffordable for many, weakening the boost to economies that will occur when borders are reopened. That shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Simple, efficient, and affordable programs will be needed to manage the testing and vaccine verification regimes that will underpin a safe restoration of the freedom of mobility,” said Walsh.