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​Return to travel? Help governments to better understand the options

Blog post   •   Feb 03, 2021 13:53 UTC

I had the pleasure of asking UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson a pertinent question at a Downing Street press conference:

“With vaccines underway, what are the government's long-term plans to allow a swift return to travel - and work proactively with other nations to install safe travel mechanisms including potential shared databases or apps, and technology in general - so we can get business growing as soon as possible?”

The travel industry has always stood for innovation and many initiatives around “return to travel” are starting to crop up, from digital health passports with select airlines to unilateral talks between IATA and their members around the IATA - Travel Pass Initiative however overall progress is still slow and common standards are minimal amongst some governments and health officials across the globe. IATA issued a campaign calling for governments and industry to partner: “We can see light at the end of the tunnel as vaccination programs roll out. Turning this vision into a safe re-start will require careful planning and coordination by governments and industry,” their CEO Alexandre de Juniac said last week.

Many government solutions to battle Covid-19 appear to be solely based on stopping travel completely - or alienating travelers due to costly hotel quarantine rules without leveraging the travel industry’s wide knowledge of travel technology and out-of-the-box solutions. After all, the travel industry has weathered many storms before from ash clouds to 9/11; major strikes, and a global financial crash in 2008. Innovation and helping impacted governments are what allowed us to return to travel as quickly as reasonably possible.

We perhaps need to also understand that some government officials are not yet aware of what is out there to assist recovery and that’s understandable – technology can be a daunting beast. However, the travel industry is ready to help global travel and business recovery so let’s do this together with governments and health experts.

From cabin crew to high street travel agents to CEOs of travel management companies and anyone affiliated with travel; All of us have a duty to reach out to governments across the world in any way we can to raise awareness of the need for collaboration between governments and the travel industry, and to enable understanding of available technology solutions. If governments don’t understand the solutions being proposed by the travel industry or have no active buy-in, brilliant solutions risk becoming fads as opposed to truly getting us back to traveling, soonest.

Hear my question and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s response here.

Blog author:  Martijn van der Voort, Manager, Global OBT Product Delivery, CWT