Travel and the Pandemic
Americans are the top contributors to the revenue produced by the worldwide tourism industry.
In 2019, travel and tourism represented 10.3% of the global GDP. So, as much as we miss traveling outside of the United States, the destinations to which we travel probably miss us even more. The economic impact on tourism as a result of the pandemic are said to be a decline of over $118 billion dollars. This has affected not only corporations such as airlines, hotel chains, resorts, car rental companies – but also the people whose work make tourism thrive – taxi drivers, tour guides, hotel staff, shop and restaurant employees.
The impact of the pandemic has been devastating to smaller countries which depend on tourism as large portion of their GDP. Here too, millions of Americans in the travel industry have suffered job losses or changes in employment status, even though tourism represented only 3.3% of our GDP in 2019.
Many new COVID prevention protocols have been put in place all over the world, yet the spread of the virus continues, delaying the surge of bookings that are sure to come once the virus is under control.
To faciliate the future of smooth global travel, IATA (www.iata.org) is developing a mobile app that will allow travelers to store and manage certifications for COVID-19 tests or vaccines. The information provided through the IATA Travel Pass can be used by governments requiring testing or vaccination proof as a condition of international travel during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. A critical aspect is the fact that the information supplied is verified, and is much more efficient and secure than paper processes.
With this app, IATA also aims to provide governments with the confidence to reopen borders without imposing quarantines on incoming travelers.
Some of its features will include:
- Accurate information on travel, testing and vaccine requirements for journeys
- Identification of testing centers and labs at departure location that meet the requirements of the destination
- A digital passport module will enable passengers to create a ‘digital passport’, receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary, and share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel.
The app will be free for passengers to download and use. Necessity is the mother of invention, and this new technology will be key for passengers to travel safely, allowing tourism to recover and thrive once again.