The Global Tourism Crisis Committee, at a meeting in Madrid last week organized by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is calling for a vaccine passport, saying it must become an essential travel document to help restart international tourism.
“The rollout of vaccines is a step in the right direction, but the restart of tourism cannot wait,” UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said, according to the British newspaper The Guardian. “Vaccines must be part of a wider, coordinated approach that includes certificates and passes for safe cross-border travel.”
The rising number of COVID-19 cases has forced the United Kingdom to shut down all travel corridors, require all arrivals to quarantine and a total ban on arrivals from South America and Portugal, The Guardian noted.
But achieving such a passport has its issues. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), for instance, has already branded them discriminatory.
“We’re at the very early stage of the vaccine rollout. If you make vaccines compulsory it will mean an awful lot of people won’t be able to fly, even if they are COVID-free,” a WTTC spokesperson told The Guardian. “It’s far better to have a test-and-release scheme where travelers test before travel to prove they are COVID-free.”
But Dr. Richard Dawood, a specialist in travel medicine at the Fleet Street Clinic in London, said proof of vaccination in order to travel is inevitable.
“It won’t really be our choice – [vaccine passports] will de facto be a requirement by individual countries to prove immunity,” he said. “The ground work has been laid. At the moment people in the UK are given a bit of paper once they’ve been vaccinated. It’s not exactly secure. There needs to be some fair consideration at some point to how we will keep records of vaccinations without burdening the National Health Service. [For health passports to work] we need a way to authenticate vaccines.”