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Travellers gaining confidence with vaccine rollout, safety measures

Muzaffar Rizvi/Dubai
Filed on March 9, 2021
Iata survey said 88 per cent participants of its survey believe that when opening borders, the right balance must be struck between managing Covid-19 risks and getting the economy going again.

The Iata survey was conducted in major countries including the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, India and the UAE

The aviation industry sees a ray of hope with growing confidence in a return to air travel, rising frustration with current travel restrictions, and acceptance of a travel app to manage health credentials for travel, according to a survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

In a statement on Tuesday, global aviation watchdog said 88 per cent participants of its survey believe that when opening borders, the right balance must be struck between managing Covid-19 risks and getting the economy going again.

About 85 per cent of the survey participants said that governments should set Covid-19 targets such as testing capacity or vaccine distribution to re-open borders and ease travel restrictions.

“Another 84 per cent believe that Covid-19 will not disappear, and we need to manage its risks while living and traveling normally. On another side, 68 per cent agreed that their quality of life has suffered with travel restrictions while 49 per cent believe that air travel restrictions have gone too far,” the survey said.

Survey conducts in key markets

The Iata survey was conducted in major countries including the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, India and the UAE, among others. As many as 4,700 interviews were conducted online in 11 markets between February 15-23, 2021 and the sample size varies from 300 to 500 participants in each market.

Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director-general and CEO, said 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”. He said it is becoming clear that “we will need to learn to live and travel” in a world that has Covid-19.

“Given the health, social and economic costs of travel restrictions, airlines should be ready to re-connect 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?” De Juniac said.

Future travel trends

Survey respondents also sent a clear message that people are becoming more confident to travel. Those expecting to travel within a few months of “Covid-19 containment” now account for 57 per cent of survey respondents — improved from 49 per cent in September 2020.

“This 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,” the survey said.

The Iata also warned about 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,” the survey said.

De Juniac said 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. And this points us again towards working with governments for a well-planned re-opening as soon as conditions allow,” he said.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London's StrategicAero Research, said with digital passports, testing and new smartphone apps, there is clear appetite for people to fly again.

“After a tumultuous year where the freedom and normality of air travel has been changed and entirely disrupted, the advent of several vaccines, their production and rollout now means that would-be travellers are again looking at what the future holds. Until the majority of the globe is vaccinated, that sort of freedom is still a long way off, however, the journey has started for many nations as so, with that, there is hope that air corridors can once again either be re-established or indeed, return to some form of normality that we have been accustomed to,” he said.

“As the global effort to roll out vaccinations continues, so too will the digital development of apps that will allow travellers to once again get back to how things were pro-Covid, even if for a short while until the entire planet catches up to this ‘new normal’,” Ahmad added.

Future travel trends

•57% expect to be traveling within two months of the pandemic being contained (improved from 49% in September 2020)

•72% want to travel to see family and friends as soon as possible (improved from 63% in September 2020)

•81% believe that they will be more likely to travel once they are vaccinated

•84% said they will not travel if there is a chance of quarantine at destination (largely unchanged from 83% in September 2020)

•56% believe that they will postpone travel until the economy stabilises (improved from 65% in September 2020)

What Iata survey reveals

•88% believe that when opening borders, the right balance must be struck between managing COVID-19 risks and getting the economy going again

•85% believe that governments should set COVID-19 targets (such as testing capacity or vaccine distribution) to re-open borders

•84% believe that COVID-19 will not disappear, and we need to manage its risks while living and traveling normally

•68% agreed that their quality of life has suffered with travel restrictions

•49% believe that air travel restrictions have gone too far

Iata travel pass holds the key

•89% of respondents believe that governments need to standardize vaccine and testing certificates

•80% are encouraged by the prospect of the IATA Travel Pass App and would use it as soon as available

•78% will only use a travel credential app if they have full control over their data

— muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com





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