Many people are interested to know, what could travelling after COVID-19 look like?
COVID-19 has overturned global travelling possibilities and brought the world to a standstill. Almost 90% of the world’s population has been living with travel restrictions for the last 15 or so months. The tourism sector, airlines and travel companies have been the most affected since the beginning of 2020.
We all hope to travel again, and as the number of vaccines across the world increase, it shouldn’t be long. But will it be the same? The answer is no. As borders begin to open and international travel becomes an option to certain countries on the “green list”, a lot of people will be wondering… “Will I be safe?”
In a survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), when asked what standard safety measures would make passengers feel safer travelling after COVID-19, social distancing, visible sanitising stations, screenings and the wearing of face masks at all times were listed.
New health & safety protocols/systems will need to be in place for travelling after COVID-19. And people will want to know what they are, for their own good. Whilst local governments and the travel industry plans for recovery and adapt to changing the behaviour of the modern-day traveller in 2021, the use of digital identity and biometric technologies could restore trust, whilst ensuring a seamless and safe journey.
So, what key areas of transformation could the travel industry work on to ensure the health and safety of travellers in 2021?
COVID-19 laws will be different for each country. However, wherever you are, you may have to prove you are healthy before stepping on a plane.
Denis Kinane, Chief Medical Officer at Cignpost Diagnostics said to the Express “getting COVID tests will become a holiday essential, like buying travel insurance or exchanging money“. He advised travellers to “only buy tests from a government approved provider and book every test in advance so you can take them at the right time. If you don’t, you may not be able to fly, facing a fine.“. The fine for flouting travel law could be as high as £10,000!
In an attempt to open borders and allow international travel again, most countries will follow a traffic light system. This scores the country based on the infection rate, the potential spread, and prevention measures. So, for example:
- Green countries would mean people could return to the UK with no restrictions.
- Amber destinations would most likely mean people having to quarantine at home.
- Red countries would likely require a formal, 10-day quarantine stay at a hotel.
This traffic light system demonstrates that testing will be a crucial measure in providing a safe pathway to re-open travelling.
Digital health certificates.
Summer 2021 is looking different due to the wide rollout of national vaccine programmes. In Europe, freedom of movement between countries is a fundamental right afforded to its citizens. In an effort to keep borders open sensibly, implementing the traffic light system indicating rate of infection has been the answer. The introduction of free digital health certificates will support this system. This will allow users to show their vaccination, tests and/or recovery status from COVID-19 for each colour band.
In the EU, an EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), or Digital Green Pass as some people know it as, will allow for travel restrictions to lift across 27 member states of Europe and even some specific non-EU countries as well. Though some countries have issued this, the legislation will officially come into force on July 1st, 2021.
The UK has already rolled out their own version of a vaccine certificate through their National Health Service (NHS) app. This will be used for entry into sporting events like the Wimbledon Championships and The UEFA Football Championships. They are also an exception to the EUDCC. With negotiations to carve an agreement on how the national health certificate could be compatible for travel within the EU.
Certain EEA countries like Iceland, Norway and Switzerland have the option to implement the EUDCC as their national health pass. However, both Norway and Switzerland will be creating their own ‘vaccine passports’ that will be compatible with the EU version.
Some states in the US have already begun introducing vaccine passports. For example, New York has an app called Excelsior Pass, this shows vaccination proof or the result of a recent negative COVID-19 test. This app is not in widespread use. As of June 2021, there has been no nationwide digital certificate plans mentioned.
What do you think of these digital health passports? Will you be using a vaccine passport when travelling after COVID-19? Let us know by tweeting us @EuronetATMsEU with the hashtag #travellingaftercovid19.
Touchless travel technology.
As we all know, COVID-19 has changed the way in which we interact and handle everyday tasks. So even with strict cleaning protocols in place, exchanging travel documents and touching surfaces through check-in, security, border control and boarding could present a significant risk of infection for both staff and travellers. Which is why a shift to touchless travel, from airport curb-side to hotel check-in, is one of the most important changes to consider.
A form of automation across the entire sector will become the new norm. Biometrics are already the solution for identity verification. And as physical fingerprinting and hand scanners get phased out, biometric technologies will be used more frequently than you can imagine. Eventually more touchless options will arise, including contactless fingerprinting, as well as eye and facial recognition technology. Technology for touchless data-entry like gesture control, touchless document scanning, and voice commands are already being tested!
To survive, we need to adapt. And to survive when travelling after COVID-19, the entire travel industry needs to make some serious digital changes to accommodate the new touchless norm.
More independent lodging.
Holiday rental sites like Airbnb and other similar sites have been extremely popular during the pandemic, with people craving their own space and control. Guests were expected to rely on enhanced and standardised COVID-related cleaning and sanitation protocols available through major hotel brands. But why put yourself at potential risk in hotels, when you can rent your own space where you cater for yourself, clean up after yourself and don’t have to worry about physical check-ins or public run-ins?
“I did not think it would happen the way it happened, but it turns out that people prefer having their own front door, no lobby, no elevator and a place that they could Lysol down twice a day, if they want to,” said Jan Freitag, national director for hospitality analytics at hospitality analysis firm STR.
Hotel demand will eventually go up again as more countries get the vaccine and restrictions ease. People will get more comfortable with the idea of public hotel stays. But for now, independent lodges are the way to go!
Travel Advisors to make a comeback.
Travel agents have become more niche in recent years, as the majority of consumers prefer to book their holidays online. These advisors tend to focus their efforts on business travel and luxury accounts now. But given the fast-changing nature of the pandemic and the difficulties some travellers have endured trying to get home or even get refunds, it would make more sense to turn to travel agents in the future. It would mean that the modern-day traveller would simply have an advocate in their corner if something went wrong. They do know the industry best after all.
Juliet Kinsman, Editor for Conde Nast Traveller, predicts a shift to booking travel through agents and established operators. She notes their invaluable knowledge and industry connections as the reason to her prediction. “I think what 2020 has shown and taught us is the expertise and financial protection of booking through a travel agent often outweighs the amount you pay in commission,” she says and additionally hopes that consumers will look to agents who specialise in the environment, “Those who care about where they send their customers can intuitively cut through greenwash and really ensure every link in the supply chain is an honourable one,”.
Above all, we will travel again.
Despite the tragedy that has unfolded over the past 15 months or so, around the globe, with entire countries closed to the outside world… all travel experts have confidence that travel will eventually resume and be as rewarding as ever. The experience will look and feel slightly different as health become the forefront focus. However, people will be able to count on the transformative and positive impact of travel to change their own lives and the destinations they visit for the better. We just hope that this will happen sooner rather than later.
If you are beginning to plan your trips for travelling after COVID-19, knowing how to save money during your holiday will be a great tip for you! Check out our blog “How to save money during your holiday“.