It’s been two months since the government announced its four-part pathway strategy towards normalising Australia’s travel movements.
How much has changed (and quickly) in that time!
As such thought it may help to bring together travel updates for you that we have access to. A state of play for travel both here and around the world and what we have been up to. So let me go through the most recent happenings:
Overseas travel before Christmas?
Australia’s ban on outbound international travel could be lifted in about eight weeks’ time, as the Federal Government continues to insist that the vaccination targets agreed to under its four-stage National Plan will be adhered to. It’s understood a range of measures were discussed in Canberra last night (Wednesday) including progress on implementing a link to the Australian Immunisation Record which would once again allow Australians to leave the country freely.
MORE than 80% of travel experts believe vaccine passports will be an essential tool in enabling the sector to rebound effectively after the pandemic, new data from Finder suggests. The survey’s results were in line with similar findings, which found four in five people were in favour of vaccine passports if it meant a quicker return to business travel. The Finder survey also found that 84% of travel experts canvassed agreed that opening Australia’s international borders to fully vaccinated tourists in 2022 without having to undergo hotel quarantine was a good idea. Commenting on the results, Chairman of foreign exchange provider CLSA Premium, Peter Boehm, said the travel and tourism sector should go ahead under a vaccinated model that balances both health and economic concerns. “If tourists are fully vaccinated, and we open up the economy once we reach the planned vaccination rates, then the risk of death is materially reduced and life should, and must, go on as normal as possible,” he said. However, the same study also found that only 11% of experts predicted interstate borders would open up to travellers before the end of the year, with the majority tipping that it would happen during Q1 next year, while a third of respondents lamenting interstate travel might even be later, during Q2 2022.
AUSTRALIA’S Minister for Tourism Dan Tehan has confirmed he is “very keen to see cruising up and running again” as quickly as possible, with the 80% vaccination marker laid out in National Cabinet’s four-stage plan seen as a key threshold to allowing a resumption. Speaking to about 50 people from across the travel and cruise sector earlier this week in a webinar) convened by Dave Sharma, Member of Parliament for Wentworth, Tehan noted the barriers in place. “What we need is to get the approval of the individual states and territories and approval of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)...to get cruise ships up and running, above the current 100-passenger limit,” the Minister said. “I can’t give you a firm date, but my hope would be once we hit that 80% vaccination rate across the nation then we should be in a position to look very seriously at getting international cruising happening again here above that 100 number,” he added.
Overseas travel before Christmas?
Abu Dhabi has confirmed it will welcome all vaccinated travellers from across the globe, in line with the UAE’s dropping of all visitor restrictions. Visitors can register vaccination details for verification five days before travel via ica.gov.ae. An SMS confirmation will include a link to a smartphone app which must be downloaded, to display vaccination status and PCR test results which in turn activate the Abu Dhabi Green Pass. Upon arrival a PCR test is taken at the airport, and then the Pass allows them entry to all public spaces in Abu Dhabi.
Ongoing confusion over travel rules in Europe are wasting the advantages of the European Union’s Digital COVID Certificate, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned. The failure of European Union member states to harmonise COVID-19 entry regulations is perplexing travellers, preventing both the leisure and business sectors from delivering the expected economic benefits of travel recovery. Among the most significant discrepancies, around 30% of nations using the Digital COVID Certificate are not accepting rapid testing, and almost one-in-five are not exempting children from testing either.
Italy has added testing and self-isolation requirements for American travellers at the end of August after the EU removed the U.S. from its safe travel list. Though the most dramatic policy changes affect unvaccinated travellers – who are still welcome to enter the country, so long as they take the time to self-isolate – vaccinated travellers will have to jump through additional hoops of new testing requirements. Travelers can offer proof of vaccination through a paper card with a CDC logo.
What have we been doing at National Seniors Travel?
Whilst our experienced team of consultants have successfully assisted our clients in obtaining refunds and credits from travel suppliers around the world, we have also been busy readying our business for resumption in a new ‘travel world’. In this time, we have:
- Developed and launched a new digital COVID-19 Information Hub, Safety Hub- providing all manners of safety information for our clients (through our sister company National Travel)
- Enhanced our Mobile App -My Travel Itinerary App to include real time COVID-19 Information. Exclusively for use by our clients.
- Created PPE travel kits (through our sister brand People Protect) exclusively for our clients.
- Created and embedded a Supplier Excellence Program - Identifying suppliers who have high impact cleaning procedures and safety and hygiene protocols to give you peace of mind. Keeping you safe is our priority.
- With travel inventory in Australia being in critical short supply -we have sourced and developed our own Signature Tours for 2022 - coupling wonderful experiences with superior travel safety protocols. This will be launched in the next two weeks - so keep a look out so you don’t miss out!
As the world continues to work its way through to the ‘new normal and opening up’ and the pace of change for travel increases, I will keep you updated. If there is anything you have a particular interest in, please let me know.
David Sumich – Managing Director
National Seniors Travel