According to a survey of 4700 international travellers released Tuesday by IATA, those expecting to travel within a few months of “COVID-19 containment” now account for 57 per cent of respondents (improved from 49 per cent in September 2020).
This increase in confidence in travel is supported by vaccine rollout which indicates that 81 per cent of people will be more likely to travel once vaccinated. And 72 per cent of respondents want to travel as soon as possible after COVID-19 is contained to see friends and family.
There are some headwinds in travel trends. About 84 per cent of travellers will not travel if it involves quarantine at destination. And there are still indications that the pick-up in business travel will take time with 62 per cent of respondents saying they are likely to travel less for business even after the virus is contained. That is, however, a significant improvement from the 72 per cent recorded in September 2020.
“People want to get back to travel, but quarantine is the showstopper. As testing capacity and technology improves and the vaccinated population grows, the conditions for removing quarantine measures are being created,” said de Juniac.
‘Get On With Their Lives’
While the public still supports travel restrictions, it is becoming clear that people are frustrated with the loss of freedom and are increasingly comfortable with managing the risks of COVID-19.
68 per cent of respondents indicated their quality of life is suffering as a result of the loss of freedom to travel. Nearly 40 per cent reported mental stress and missing important human moments as a result of travel restrictions. And over a third have said that restrictions prevent them from doing business normally.
“The top priority of everybody at the moment is staying safe amid the COVID-19 crisis. But it is important that we map a way to being able to re-open borders, manage risks and enable people to get on with their lives. That includes the freedom to travel,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
He said that we need to learn to live and travel in a world with COVID-19 and that airlines should be ready to reconnect the world as soon as governments are able to re-open borders.
“That’s why a plan with measurable milestones is so critical. Without one, how can we be prepared for restart without an unnecessary delay?” said de Juniac.
IATA Travel Pass
Travel health credentials are already opening borders to some countries and while some countries are working on their own digital certificate systems, IATA said that the system needs global standards and high levels of data security.
Four of five people surveyed would like to use this technology as soon as it becomes available, but many are concerned about data security. About 78 per cent said they will not use an app if they are not in full control of their data. And about 60 per cent will not use a travel credential app if data is stored centrally.
“We are designing IATA Travel Pass with the traveller in mind. Passengers keep all the data on their mobile devices, and they remain in full control of where that data goes. There is no central database. While we are making good progress with numerous trials, we are still awaiting the global standards for digital testing and vaccine certificates. Only with global standards and governments accepting them can we maximize efficiency and deliver an optimum travel experience,” said de Juniac.