From bed-hopping backpackers to Five Star Only influencers, when international travel finally returns, we’re all going to have to do more than seek a Sugar Surrogate to fund our trips.
How? Well, while you usually get a health check after your summer of sin, in light of recent circumstances, travellers may now have to seek a “health passport” before embarking on their Old World adventure.
As News.com.au reports, “More and more destinations are flagging the potential introduction of health passports that would ensure tourists are virus-free when border lockdowns lift and travelling resumes.”
“The travel documents would be used in tandem with existing passports to prove tourists and other travellers aren’t bringing the virus with them.”
In Sardinia, where the pandemic has wiped out the local tourism industry, authorities are keen to introduce them in time for summer (though no one knows if international travel will take three weeks or three years to return).
If Sardinia’s proposal were implemented, travellers would have to present their health credentials and have their temperatures checked before entering the Mediterranean paradise.
“This way we hope to relaunch our tourism sector in June,” the island’s governor, Christian Solinas, told Arab News.
“Whoever boards a plane or a ferry will have to show (the health passport) along with their boarding pass and their identity document.”
“I am sure that it will work fine: we will preserve health and save our economy at the same time. Now everything has to be done to boost tourism. It is the biggest source of income for Sardinia.”
As Italy generates about 15 per cent of its GDP from tourism, changes of this kind are happening all throughout the country, with Sicily last week offering to subsidize tourists’ airfares and hotel fees.
Other Italian island destinations, such as Capri, Ischia and Panarea, and the southern coastal region of Puglia, are considering a similar “health passport” system too.
And it’s not just Italy: Greece is considering it too, with Greece’s minister of state Giorgos Gerapetritis announcing “negotiations are underway” and claiming visitors “will come with some sort of certificate” (The Sun).
Spain’s Balearic Islands, Turkey and Chile are all making similar noises (some, like Chile, floating the idea of even stricter entry requirements). Meanwhile, the European Union is discussing a scheme akin to Australia and New Zealand’s proposed “travel bubble” as we slowly, globally, come out of this crisis.
As for Australia, those in the know (notably, the PM Scott Morrison and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce) are optimistic about a return to domestic travel this year, but doubtful international travel (for pleasure) will be back on the cards any time soon.
In terms of global institutions, The World Health Organisation has warned against countries against issuing “immunity passports,” because it is not yet clear whether contracting the virus makes people fully immune.
“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” WHO said, adding false confidence carried the risk of another outbreak.
Until then: a virtual tour of Europe will have to stand in for your summer of sand and sangria.