Meeting Mentor Magazine

March 2024

Travel Stamps and Vaccine Passports —
Travel Necessities for Future Conventions?

What will it take to make travel safe again for conferences and events? There have been several possibilities floated, including the Safe Travels Stamp, an initiative launched last May by the World Travel & Tourism Council to help spur the global travel market that has been devastated by COVID-19. The organization recently hit the milestone of 250 destinations throughout the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific having earned the stamp, which has received the backing of the United Nations World Tourism Organization and more than 200 industry leaders. To be approved, a destination has to follow the health and safety protocols based on guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But even if the destination has been designated as following appropriate pandemic protocols, there’s still the matter of getting there, especially via air travel. While the incidence of spread on airplanes appears to be rare, a skittish traveling public still is, for the most part, waiting for the vaccine rollout to become more widespread before taking to the skies. And many governments, including that of the U.S., requires international travelers to prove they have tested negative for the coronavirus before allowing them to enter the country. Travel to the U.S. remains outright banned for non-U.S. citizens from Brazil, South Africa, Britain, Ireland, and 26 European countries that currently allow travel across open borders.

One option that is receiving a lot of attention is that of the vaccine passport, a digital app that could include proof of COVID-19 vaccination and/or a recent negative test for the virus.

There are a number of these apps in the works, including the Travel Pass from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an app that can receive verified test results or vaccination certificates directly from participating healthcare providers.

Air New Zealand has taken the step of doing a three-week trial run of requiring its Sydney-Auckland passengers to use the Travel Pass from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an app that can receive verified test results or vaccination certificates directly from participating healthcare providers. The trial run of the program is being watched closely by other interested airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and British Airways. In November 2020, Qantas had announced that, once COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out in sufficient numbers, it would require international passengers to be able to prove they had received their preventive shot.

But there are many others under development as well, including the Digital Health Pass from IBM, which would give people a way to prove they have received a vaccination or a negative test to gain access to not just airplanes, but also other public venues. Another app now being tested is the CommonPass, developed by the World Economic Forum and the Swiss nonprofit group the Commons Project Foundation. The CommonPass would generate a QR code passengers could show authorities to prove their COVID-19 status. The Airport Council International, which represents some 2,000 airports around the world, has agreed to use the CommonPass, and OneWorld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam, which represent 58 member airlines, have also expressed their support. Other contenders include Clear, the air travel security program, which is looking into adding vaccination certification to its HealthPass platform.

While to date they have been more focused on providing health and safety protocols, such as GBAC STAR accreditation, to ensure those who enter their facilities feel protected, don’t be surprised if meeting and convention venues, especially larger convention centers and stadiums, also start publicly exploring the idea of requiring some sort of vaccine passport to ensure safety from the outside in as well as from the inside out.

While the Biden administration in the U.S. has not added a travel passport requirements to its new list of required air travel precautions such as mandated masking, it is evaluating the possibility of including some sort of proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travel. Other countries are also deliberating the idea of requiring some sort of vaccine passport for international travelers, including the U.K., Denmark, Sweden, Germany and France.


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About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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