‘Digital vaccine passports likely to be the way ahead’

DIGITAL vaccine passports are likely to be the way forward for international travel to some countries in the near future, according to local travel agents.

World Travel's Jamie Blondel. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29538835)
World Travel's Jamie Blondel. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29538835)

Jersey has announced that it is going to require travellers to the island to have proof of vaccination to avoid isolating when they arrive, as well as taking a test on arrival.

It seems likely that other countries will have similar requirements.

Wayfarers World Travel chairman Brian Kelly said that the International Air Transport Association had been trialling a smartphone app in Singapore and elsewhere which showed that the user had received vaccinations.

But he hoped that this would not be the case for people travelling to the UK from Guernsey. ‘We would expect for regional domestic travel in the UK to be free travel,’ he said.

Longer-term, there could be free travel to ‘green’ areas in Europe, with perhaps destinations like Africa and South America requiring Covid-19 vaccinations.

He said that people appeared to be hesitant about booking for 2021, but the company had noticed a lot of bookings for next year, particularly in one sector.

‘The cruise market is unbelievably strong,’ he said.

‘It’s stronger than anything else. We’ve had people coming in and booking two or three cruises at a time.’

A digital passport such as that trialled by Iata seemed to be the best way forward, said World Travel director Jamie Blondel. But he questioned whether all countries would accept it.

‘Various airlines have been trialling it, such as Etihad, Emirates and Virgin, and I know British Airways are trying something like it as well.’

Another issue facing travel agents is if people book to go to a country flagged as safe but then has its status changed so that they are unable to travel there.

He said that the company had spoken to airlines and tour operators to make sure bookings could be moved or changed if the situation altered and this was something that many had come to accept.

His other concern was that Guernsey aligned with the UK on how it treated destinations, so that one country was not classed as ‘amber’ by Guernsey, but ‘green’ by the UK.

Trafalgar Travel’s agency manager Charlie Coyle said at the moment most countries wanted proof of a negative test within 48 hours of travel, but he suspected proof of vaccination might become more widespread eventually.

Greece and Portugal were among the popular destinations that were looking for proof of testing.

Like Mr Kelly, he said generally, people seemed to be holding back on booking holidays.

‘They’re holding back to see if Guernsey and the UK align their rules.

‘But we are doing extremely well for forward bookings for next year. They are a lot higher than normal. Things are very promising.’

He said travel agents were also hoping to see a UK/USA agreement soon: ‘We want the two of them to sit down and talk and come to some sort of agreement to open the borders.

A States of Guernsey press conference should take place later this week.

. Comment was sought from the Jersey Government about whether vaccine passports would apply to Guernsey as well, but no response has been received.

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