healthcare

Vaccine passport move excites travel sector

May 23, 2021

Muscat: Oman's travel and tourism sectors are upbeat over the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) announcement of accepting vaccinated passengers as a global best practice to reopen borders and support the global travel sector. According to statistics, more than 20 countries have wholly or partially lifted restrictions for vaccinated travellers.

Companies operating in the travel and tourism sector in the Sultanate heaved a sigh of relief. They welcomed the travel body's decision to reinvigorate the industry, which is trying to weather the storm posed by the pandemic.

They hope that accepting vaccinated passengers with proof would help Oman's travel and tourism sector revive and help the world get back to normalcy.

'I think allowing vaccinated passengers travel across the world is the best option towards normalcy. That will benefit the tourism sector as Oman and other countries can start accepting tourists to enter the countries,' says Abdullah Ali al Hashami, Tourism Promotion Specialist at the Ministry of Tourism.

'I belive after the end of the current pandemic, we will see big change in the travel and tourism sector as everyone is looking forward to travel. That will lead to starting afresh and strong travel movement around the world in general and for Oman as a tourist destination,' adds Abdullah.

Sunil D'Souza, CEO, Travel City, feels things are likely to rebound in the first quarter of 2022. The world is eagerly awaiting the opening of markets worldwide, with IATA's vaccine passport will act as a catalyst to facilitate travel for vaccinated passengers.

'However, let's hope that things are expected to change positively for businesses from early next year onwards until the critical mass build up in early 2022,' adds D'Souza.

The IATA applauded the growing number of countries making data and evidence-driven decisions to open their borders to vaccinated travellers. The latest data collected by IATA, including its Timatic service,

Ejaz Kazi, GM, Easy Travels and Tours, said that this current trend of accepting all vaccinated passengers is slowly getting approvals to enter various countries and will create a huge ripple effect.

'As long as all protocols are being followed, it would be good to start off with Europeans, the US and of course Gulf nationals, who are vaccinated, would boost the hospitality industry in general,' adds Kazi.

IATA further says that it supports unrestricted access to travel for vaccinated travellers. In cases where vaccination is not possible, access to quarantine-free travel should be provided through Covid-19 testing strategies based on widely available, free-of-charge tests.

VACCINATION TRAVEL AS A MOTIVATOR

Experts further comment that an essential incentive for vaccination travel can be a great source of inspiration for those who are reluctant to take the vaccine.

'Alleviations from Covid-19 restrictions are a powerful motivator for vaccination, particularly in communities where vaccine hesitancy is prevalent. This is an additional and important benefit of restriction-free travel for those vaccinated and is clearly mentioned by the IATA,' says Reena Rahman, COO of Al Hind.

Prem Colaco, Country Manager, Indigo, says this is a better move and clinically suitable to accept passengers with two vaccine doses. It makes sense to operate flights.

'Also, Airlines should provide clean, hygienic aircraft to minimise the impact of infection,' Colaco adds.

IATA polling indicates that 80 per cent of international travellers are willing to get vaccinated to travel. Moreover, 74 per cent of people in the same poll agreed that those vaccinated should travel by air without restrictions.

Venkat, a travel expert, further adds that vaccine passports are the best way forward. It should start immediately because that's the only solution to the existing deep gorge that airlines are currently fallen.

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