European countries may be implementing “health passports” which would determine whether a traveler can enter a foreign country depending on their virus history. But what would the ramifications of that mean for the future of travel post-virus? I dig deeper and try to answer some of the questions surrounding this…..
What might an implementation of this new policy look like? Maybe we see a trial run in countries like Greece and Italy before other countries adopt a similar policy?
Essentially it would involve creating a ‘digital certificate’ using facial biometrics to prove who has had Covid-19. While this could obviously could be applied to leisure and business travel, ultimately it could also help test workers to ease the impact on the economy and businesses from ongoing physical distancing. We know that in the UK tech firms are already in talks with ministers about creating these so called health passports, AND summer hotspots like Sardinia, Turkey and Greece are all looking at introducing them for tourists. Now, tourists would be required to produce a document showing theyv’e tested negative for Covid-19 within a week of their arrival. In fact, the European Union tourism ministers are already said to be discussing the possibility of a bloc-wide “Covid-19 passport.”
What does this mean for the future of travel and tourism – Will it help or hinder it?
In areas that could be severly affected by the upcomoing summer tourism season, yes of course this could help. However many are sceptical to what extent this would be 100% safe at this current stage. The World Health Organisation has warned against the idea, stressing that there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19, and have antibodies, are 100% protected from a second infection. The fear would be that this could actually increase the spread of the virus even more. This could change obviosuly, as new reserach emerges, but it could also be premature. Like anything with this virus, it’s all about timing.
Is it realistic? Surely this would require hundreds of thousands of virus tests per week, possible doctor involvement and, on top of that, it’s just another form of documentation travelers have to remember to bring with them to the airport.
The reality is that people are going to start to travel again and when they do there is going to have to be safety measures in place. Whether or not health passports take off, flights in the future are likely to see us undergo health checks before departure and upon arrival. I also think people are going to find ways to protect themselves better when traveling as well. I see more business and consumer travelers joining health and safety programs like Medjet, an air medical transport and travel security membership, that if a traveler is hospitalized while traveling, gets sick or injured, will organize transportation to a home country hospital of their choice for in-patient care. In general people are going to be more conscious of wellness and travel, and as long as its safe, anything that puts them at ease will help.