The UK is reportedly on the verge of joining the EU’s digital vaccine passport scheme in a move that could be a boon to holidaymakers and for those countries that usually rely on British visitors.
Not only would joining the scheme save on costs — some countries such as France and Portugal make travellers take costly tests even if they are double-jabbed — it would also help speed things up at border crossings because a person’s vaccination status would be easier to check.
“Significant progress was made on a technical front, namely when it comes to the connection to the Gateway, with aim of going live soon,” a spokesperson for the EU Commission told The Daily Telegraph.
Joining the EU scheme would get around the issue of the UK’s NHS Covid app not being recognised in some countries and would make leaving and getting back into the country much easier. The ease of travel factor is a big part of people’s reluctance to hop on a plane and go to another country.
“Our data shows that the three biggest barriers to overseas travel are ‘restrictions on travel from government’ (63% of those not confident about overseas travel), ‘the risk of quarantine when returning to the UK’ (61%) and ‘the risk of quarantine when abroad’,” Jon Young, director, at consultancy BVA BDRC.
“The EU’s vaccine passport scheme will effectively eliminate these three barriers, making overseas travel far more likely. We’ve already seen an increase in travel confidence with the simplifying of the traffic light system and any other steps will also help.”
Removing another barrier to travel would be welcomed by not only those countries with a heavy skew towards British tourists but also to those businesses that rely on outbound tourism, such as travel agents, tour operators and hoteliers with airport properties.
“Both our 2021 hotel openings – the Four Points by Sheraton London Gatwick Airport and the Radisson RED London Greenwich The O2 – are heavily reliant on international travel so I’m encouraged by news that the UK is close to joining the EU’s digital vaccine passport scheme,” Vivek Chadha, managing director and founder, Nine Group said.
Back to Normal?
At this month’s IHIF event in Berlin, many in the resorts industry were confident that people would return to travelling in bigger numbers fairly quickly and not just locally or even regionally because that’s what happened after countries lifted their initial restrictions.
“[W]e could see that as soon as the borders opened, with the safety that a company like us could provide and the brand image that we have, people are going. They don’t hesitate to travel 10 hours in a flight to be in the Caribbeans again. So, that definitely demonstrates that, no, tourism will not be only local tourism – people going next door,” Gregory Lanter, chief development and construction officer, at Club Med, said.
“That’s not happening. That’s going to be a trend. That was a trend before. But it’s not going to overcome the global will for this covering the world and benefitting from the most beautiful places.”