Requiring everyone who wishes to go overseas to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 is a path towards discrimination, according to the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Gloria Guevara, chief executive of the industry body, criticised the approach by Australian airline Qantas, whose boss, Alan Joyce, suggested passengers would need a jab before they can board one of its international services.
“We should never require the vaccination to get a job or to travel,” she said. “I totally disagree with the approach from Qantas. If you require the vaccination before travel, that takes us to discrimination.”
The chief executive of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, supported Guevara, and added that global testing measures are the way to unlock travel.
However, according to a survey conducted by Qantas, 87 per cent of respondents said they would be happy to take the coronavirus vaccine if it was demanded for international travel, while 85 per cent thought it should be required for travel to “at least some countries”.
A 2020 report by the Ada Lovelace Institute, an independent research body, stated that the introduction of ‘vaccine passports’ could “pose extremely high risks in terms of social cohesion, discrimination, exclusion and vulnerability.”
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Ryanair and Virgin ‘worst’ airlines for refund satisfaction
Low-cost behemoth Ryanair and long-haul specialist Virgin Atlantic have been rated the worst of six major airlines operating in the UK when it comes to refund satisfaction.
A survey by Which? saw both carriers given a satisfaction score of just 13 per cent by customers who applied for refunds during the pandemic.
Around a third of respondents who had a flight cancelled by the two airlines (Ryanair 32 per cent, Virgin 31 per cent) claimed they waited more than three months for their refund.
At the other end of the table was Jet2, with a satisfaction score of 76 per cent. Eight in 10 passengers (83 per cent) told Which? they received their refund within 28 days, and none reported waiting more than three months.
Tui received the second highest satisfaction score, at 57 per cent, followed by British Airways with 50 per cent and EasyJet with 45 per cent.
Olympics to be postponed again?
Hopes of a summer Olympic games in Japan this year appear to be fading as the government is reported to be planning to extend a state of emergency to seven more prefectures, reports our South Asia correspondent Ben Farmer.
Tokyo was given emergency powers last week, and today’s move came after the governors of Osaka, Kyoto and other hard-hit regions also requested the legal basis to restrict residents’ movements and businesses. The postponed Olympic games are currently scheduled for July after being postponed by the pandemic in 2020.
In an weekend survey by NHK, just 16 per cent of respondents said the Games should go ahead this year – down 11 percentage points from the previous poll last month – while a combined 77 per cent thought they should be canceled or postponed.
Japan has seen some 298,000 coronavirus cases and 4,192 deaths so far, according to public broadcaster NHK.
‘One-stop hub’ for travel opens
Travel company Kuoni has today launched the Covid Travel Advice Hub, which they describe as a “one-stop advice hub” to help people easily see what requirements and restrictions are in place as they plan their trips.
As well as showing which destinations are welcoming visitors, the advice hub includes travel corridor information, current Foreign Office advice, Covid-19 testing requirements, and quarantine rules on entering a country or returning to the UK.
Despite non-essential travel being prohibited under current lockdown rules, Kuoni are reporting that early signs in 2021 show people are “desperate to plan a holiday overseas this year – and are prepared to book now.”
Derek Jones, the chief executive of Kuoni, said:
This is about making an increasingly complex situation simple to understand, providing answers to questions we know people are asking in a clear, searchable online format that anyone can access.
The hub is available to everyone, free of charge – we’re providing this service because we want to play our part in opening up the world again.
For more information, see covidtraveladvice.kuoni.co.uk.
Portugal to enter tough new lockdown
Portugal’s government is set to announce new restrictions that will be in place from tomorrow and last for at least the next month.
A new lockdown, which is expected to be agreed by ministers today, will see people told to stay home, although primary schools will be kept open.
The country is also expected to go to the polls as planned in the upcoming presidential election.
Testing for travel is ‘common sense approach’
Here’s more from Gloria Guevara, the president and chief executive of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC):
WTTC wholeheartedly supports the testing on departure of all travellers to ensure passengers can prove they are Covid-19 free and thus avoid the spread. It will take a significant amount of time to vaccinate the global population, particularly those in less advanced countries, or in different age groups, therefore we should not discriminate against those who wish to travel but have not been vaccinated.
Only a tiny percentage of people around the world have so far received the vaccine, whereas there are vast numbers who have not, but who could be tested, show a negative result, and travel safely.
The common sense approach is to allow the free movement of people who can prove a negative test result, rather than reserve travelling or jobs for a small minority who have been vaccinated.
Furthermore, the most vulnerable groups should be prioritised, a blanket vaccination requirement would simply discriminate against non-vulnerable groups, such as Generation X, Z and Millennials, who should be able to travel with proof of a negative Covid test.
WTTC has long been calling for an internationally recognised rapid and cost-effective testing regime at departure points worldwide. This would avoid exporting the virus and aid the restoration of international travel.
Can I go on holiday? The latest advice
Holidays are cancelled, with the country in strict stay-at-home measures. Greg Dickinson has the latest information on what this means for travel, including:
- Can I go on holiday right now?
- Will the UK close its borders to international travel?
- Are there any plans in place to boost travel?
What happened yesterday?
Good morning, and welcome to our live travel news coverage.
Here’s a look at the main headlines from Tuesday:
- Adopt EU-wide vaccine certificate, suggests Greek PM
- Dubai travel corridor removed
- Jet2 suspends flights and holidays until late March
- British skiers identified as Covid cluster in Austria
- Ryanair boss says summer holidays will happen this year
- Airlines UK: Testing for travellers must end before summer
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