International travel continues to remain the most complicated phenomenon even though we are heading into 2021. In India alone, the entry requirements and quarantine regulations vary from state to state making it difficult for international arrivals during the pandemic. For instance, Chennai and Kolkata require international travellers to arrive with a negative RT-PCR certificate, whereas asymptomatic people flying into Bangalore, Kerala, or Odisha directly from abroad don’t need an RT-PCR test. Normal/regular international travel will not resume until the unprecedented regulations for US to India travel or travel to some other country are eased.
A digital travel pass is underway to facilitate safe resumption of air travel across geographies. The IATA Travel Pass is all set for a pilot trial early in 2021. On successful completion of the trial period, the IATA Travel Pass will be implemented worldwide in a bid to end the impasse that currently exists due the scattered information about international travel amid the pandemic. Expected to be a most vital travel app, the travel pass will give seamless access to the information about country-specific entry requirements, visa restrictions, travel regulations, etc. It will also be a key source of information about where and how to take a COVID test for hassle-free travel in 2021.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a major driving force catapulting international air travel beyond the restrictions and reinstating the flying public’s confidence. The objective of the Travel Pass that IATA worked on in collaboration with International Airlines Group (IAG) is defined as below:
“Informing passengers on what tests, vaccines and other measures they require prior to travel, details on where they can get tested and giving them the ability to share their tests and vaccination results in a verifiable, safe and privacy-protecting manner is the key to giving governments the confidence to open borders.”
IATA says that the Travel Pass will be an all-in-one solution to the chaos existing in global field and that the app will secure the user’s personal information against unauthorized access. Decentralized block chain technology will be used to ensure that the IT infrastructure for the digital travel pass does not integrate a central database and thereby preventing hacking of the user’s personal details. The global implementation of the IATA Travel Pass depends on successful completion of the trial period – which will convince all partners that the app is safe and secure.
“The IATA Travel Pass is expected to be a revolutionary solution both for travelers and aviation authorities. In a country like India where COVID testing guidelines, entry requirements and quarantine regulations are so volatile that we struggle to keep our customers informed about do’s and don’ts related to their departure, transit and arrival. Though we are striving to dish out the latest information through our travel news portal, many travelers are puzzled over what forms to be filled out, what apps to be installed, what portals to register on, what COVID tests are considered valid, etc. Hence, a uniform solution such as IATA’s digital travel pass is a boon to everyone,” said the chief information officer of Indian Eagle.
The Travel Pass in question will also mitigate the risks of importing the Novel Coronavirus once borders reopen for normal international flights. While supporting the travel pass, the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) has requested Indian Government to revoke the suspension of e-visa and tourist visa for the countries with which India has established an air bubble travel corridor. IATA elaborates on the benefits of its digital travel pass:
“It will travelers to create a ‘digital passport’, receive test reports and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary, and share test reports and vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. This app can also be used by travelers to manage their travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout their journey, improving travel experience.”