TRAVEL NEWS – 4 February 2021: It's a question that pops up non-stop in the various travel-related facebook pages and groups: when can we travel internationally again? Is it in the summer of 2021, or can we also write off 2021 in its entirety? We are still in a lockdown, there are countless measures and restrictions worldwide and so it all looks bleak. Still, I'm optimistic that we can travel internationally this year. In fact, I expect this to be the case as early as this summer, and at worst, fall. As editor-in-chief of Wereldreizigers.nl I am deeply rooted in everything that has to do with travel. This way I get all recent news items and I closely follow all upcoming changes and news updates regarding regulations, standards, tests and requirements.
I will try to explain to you in this article why I am so positive. In this article I will also make a number of references to news articles that we have published over the past weeks / months Wereldreizigers.nl because it contains a lot of information from which you can get that it all goes a lot faster than you would initially expect.
Table of contents
A new global standard
As it stands, the key to resuming international travel is for countries to recognize each other's covid-19 protocols first. At the moment every country is doing it in its own way. There is disagreement about exactly the right way, and so travelers, airlines and airports find themselves in a chaotic mountain of different rules and protocols.
It is important that there is a standard that every country implements and enforces in the same way. At the moment, every country arranges it for itself, which is very confusing for all parties involved.
That must absolutely be different. There will therefore have to be a worldwide standard for covid-19 tests, vaccinations and safety protocols. A standard that is the same for everyone. This is key to be able to restart international travel.
IATA and the EU lead the way
IATA (the International Air Transport Association) is therefore urging at the highest global level that standards must be put in place quickly to allow free international travel again. All information about tests and vaccinations is now very fragmented. All kinds of documents and papers are currently required to be able to travel. All those rules and documents are very cumbersome, but at the same time easy to falsify, which poses significant risks to public health. It is therefore important that a reliable, central database for all travel-related documentation is established as soon as possible. A database linked to a person, in which all travel requirements are stored in a safe manner and can be viewed by airports and Customs.
Information source 1: IATA Unveils Mobile Travel Pass With Vaccine Information | ePassport
Fortunately, this new standard is already being worked on a lot. In fact, I think we can already expect global agreement on this new standard in Q1 2021. There will most likely be a vaccination requirement for most countries, but not in the form of a paper. It will be a mobile application (app), in which you can digitally prove that you have been vaccinated.
Top priority for the EU
IATA has been developing an App that will make all this possible for more than six months. The app can even be seen working and it will be used, among other things, to store PCR test results and vaccination data.
At the same time, IATA also hints that they want to link the application to a kind of digital ePasssport, for example by linking it with identification systems such as DigiD. This will exponentially speed up the processing and control of data at airports.
Now introducing an ePasssport with all the cumbersome organizations and governments seems an impossible task, but make no mistake. The entire digitization of passports and vaccinations has accelerated enormously in the past year. Something that was pushed aside for 20 years is now suddenly on top of the highest priority pile. At the end of January 2021, it was still discussed within the EU summit.
Information source 2: IATA urges support for European digital vaccination certificate
Some governments are reluctant
At the same time, some governments are also conservative when it comes to prospects for international travel. Australia and New Zealand recently indicated that they may close their borders to tourists for the whole of 2021, for fear of the virus. Politicians at this point don't want to burn their fingers on promises they may not be able to deliver, so they choose to remain conservative with predictions.
Information source 3: BBC news: Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021
Like Australië en New Zealand, there are a number of countries that are currently still well behind the rest of the world when it comes to vaccinating their population. Until your own population is vaccinated, it is impossible to open the borders again. Also in South America there are currently still major problems and shortages of vaccines.
Fortunately, at the same time, we also see that more and more vaccines are being approved worldwide, and that production is scaling up exponentially. The reluctant and lagging countries could just make a huge catch up in the 2nd quarter of 2021.
In addition, there are also many countries that are already fully vaccinated, including: The Netherlands, the rest of Europe, the more developed countries in Asia en North America† These countries and territories expect to have most of the population vaccinated by May to July of 2021, making easing for international travel back up for discussion for the summer and fall period this year.
The economic interests
The global economic interests are enormous. We must not forget what is at stake. This is not about a few hundred thousand jobs or several million loss. Worldwide, hundreds of millions of jobs have been lost and trillions of losses incurred in the past year. Governments are forced to rescue major airlines from the brink, and more and more people are unable to make ends meet due to a lack of work in the tourism sector. The situation is particularly dire in Asia, Africa and South America, where tourism is most important.
Information source 4: Holiday giant TUI receives financial emergency package of € 1,8 billion
Information source 5: 2020 | A disastrous year for aviation with 60% fewer passengers
Information source 6: 2020 | An extremely disastrous year for travel companies and tourism
Countries like Thailand, en Sri Lanka are already near despair, trying everything to lure tourists to the country despite the global pandemic. Thailand even flirts with fully groomed 'vaccination holidays† Simply put down 4000 euros and you can go on holiday to Thailand, and you will receive the vaccination for free. To date, however, it has had little effect, probably because international travel is currently strongly discouraged in almost the entire world.
Information source 7: Thailand desperate: vaccination and holiday package on offer
Information source 8: Sri Lanka opens borders to tourists on January 21 | These are the rules
Information source 9: The impact of the coronavirus on the safari industry
Light at the end of the tunnel
Fortunately, many things are going well. My feeling says, based on all the news I've seen lately, that from the end of summer, beginning of autumn, there will be plenty of travel again. This is mainly fueled by reports from the IATA (the largest aviation organization in the world) and the EU, which are very actively developing and rolling out applications and standards that countries must comply with. This gives confidence because member countries will use the same tests, the same screening methods, the same quarantine measures and the same vaccination requirements. Many countries outside the EU are also interested in the new standards that IATA is currently developing in collaboration with the EU. Singapore, Japan and China, for example, have already indicated that they also want to cooperate.
Information source 10: Light at the end of the tunnel: Accelerate vaccination and testing certification
Outlook for international travel in 2021
Europe, North America, Latin America and Oceania
So what's the prospect? If you ask me, a large part of the Western, Asian and Latin American world will at least be vaccinated by next summer. Provided you can prove (by means of, for example, the IATA Travel Pass) that you have been vaccinated, you will most likely be free to travel between the member countries that recognize the new standards by the end of this summer, without having to go into quarantine every time. should.
Despite recent conservative news reports from Australia and New Zealand, I expect the two countries to catch up and open their borders by the end of this year. The worldwide production of vaccines is currently gaining momentum and the economic interests are simply too great for both countries to keep pushing everything forward for another year.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao
Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius en Saba will receive the same vaccination strategy for COVID-19 as the European Netherlands, the Health Council has announced. This means that people over 60 and medical risk groups are the first to be vaccinated. Vaccination of the rest of the population will start on these islands in mid-February.
According to the current planning, they will have finished vaccinating the population approximately in the same period as the Netherlands (May-July 2021). This is also expected to mean that the Dutch islands will be released for travel again as a priority in addition to countries in Europe.
Information source 11: Advice prioritizing vaccination COVID-19 for ABC islands
Information source 12: First Covid vaccines administered in the Caribbean Netherlands in mid-February
Asia, Africa and Central America
For a large part of Asia, Africa en Central America I'm sadly still looking at it gloomy at the moment. It now appears that these regions will have to wait longer for the availability of vaccines, because they simply cannot compete with the richer countries at the moment. The image below from the BBC, which recently conducted research into the current distribution of vaccines around the world, shows this well.
Information source 11: How will Covid vaccines be shared with poorer countries?
For these regions it will therefore mainly be a matter of waiting.
I've done my best to provide you with as much recent information as possible in this article. Nobody knows exactly what this summer will look like in terms of international travel. But we can (without having a crystal ball) make a reasonable estimate by simply following the news. There are a number of countries that I expect will reopen their borders in the summer. Personally, I therefore choose to see the prospects positively by focusing primarily on what may already be possible.
Until that time? Stay at home. Obey the rules. Travel as little as possible and if you want to keep dreaming like me, then get started with it planning a world trip† Then you immediately have something to do during the lockdown!
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Written by: Chris - Wereldreizigers.nl