The International Air Transport Association welcomed the Philippine’s intent to adopt its international Covid-19 travel pass currently being used by about 25 airlines on a trial basis but at the same time warned it would not be the single magic bullet to restart international travel.
The IATA Travel Pass is a tool that can store travel health credentials for Covid-19 test results or vaccination certification. The Department of Tourism recently announced it was considering the use of the pass.
Conrad Clifford, IATA regional vice president for Asia Pacific, however clarified the Travel Pass alone is not the magic bullet for restarting travel if governments do not remove restrictions such as quarantine.
“Hence the priority is still for governments, including the Philippines, to establish a roadmap toward reopening borders and relaxing travel restrictions once it is safe to do so, and to share this roadmap with the industry so as to allow airlines to plan and provide the necessary connectivity,” he said.
“For governments to reopen international borders without quarantine and restart aviation, they need to be confident that they are mitigating the risk of importing Covid-19 and have confidence in a passenger’s declared Covid-19 status, be it testing or vaccination. The IATA Travel Pass can facilitate that,” Clifford added.
Aside from governments, the travel pass is also expected to bring benefits to both airlines and travelers.
If the Philippines intends to use that tool, it will require a whole government approach, involving more than just the Department of Tourism. Health, tourism, immigration, aviation and other government agencies will have to be heavily involved in crafting the roadmap that the country has been missing throughout our government’s entire pandemic response that has been proven by the current infection statistics and the general state of a collapsing health care system to be severely lacking.
The Department of Tourism is understandably gearing up for an eventual return of international air travel to the country and tools such as the IATA Travel Pass that can manage health credentials digitally would be essential if and when our country can finally manage the situation to be able to accept travelers and tourists with confidence. However, a lot of work remains to be done as far as the country is concerned before we can safely open international borders and relax all sorts of whimsical and draconian travel restrictions being changed and implemented on a weekly basis, without a roadmap to follow.
Travelers and tourists need roadmaps and detailed itineraries. As long as the Philippine government still doesn’t have one for its Covid-19 response after more than a year into this pandemic, we cannot expect our country to be on any travelers’ or investors’ roadmap anytime soon.*