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Travel in 2021

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  • The big idea

    Image copyright: Illustration by David Huang

    Travel in 2021 is a stop-and-go journey, as governments and businesses try to figure out an equitable plan to get things back to normal.

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  • The billion-dollar question

    Will travel in 2021 return to normal?

    Travel has returned to some extent in 2021, but it’s far from straightforward. It all depends on where you’re coming from, where you want to go, whether you’re vaccinated, and even, which specific vaccine you’ve received. It will partly hinge on how fast governments and airlines can standardize ways to verify testing, as well as vaccination status, in a way that’s equitable across borders.

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  • By the digits

    6.3 million: Chinese nationals who went abroad during the Lunar New Year in 2019

    9%: Marriott hotel occupancy in China in Feb 2020

    60%: Marriott hotel occupancy in China between July and Sept 2020

    3 million: US air travel passengers in April 2020

    28 million: US air travel passengers in Nov 2020

    21: Days travelers arriving in Hong Kong were expected to quarantine starting Christmas 2020

    4: Work days per week in some parts of China to encourage domestic tourism and revive the economy

    ≥15: Global efforts to create a vaccine passport

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  • Words of wisdom

    “We need to be optimistic about the future of travel. We will travel again. [But] we need to be a little bit more patient for a few more months to come.”

    Bart Buiring, head of sales and marketing in the Asia-Pacific region for Marriott International

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  • You asked

    Will I still have to get tested when I travel even after the pandemic is over?

    The answer is a resounding yes, writes Tim McDonnell. Though testing regimens and protocols currently vary widely by country and airline, there are efforts to standardize these throughout the industry, paving the way for future requirements that will be here to stay.

    “I highly expect for additional levels of bio-screening to become a permanent facet of cross-border travel,” said Carlos Ozores, an aviation industry consultant with the firm ICF. “But the world needs to come to an agreement on what the right approach is. We’re still very far from that.”

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  • Spotlight on: vaccine passports

    Governments have mostly left the task of assuring the health of passengers to commercial airlines. These are just a handful of the efforts currently under development.

    CommonPass

    Sponsors: The Commons Project Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Economic Forum
    Format: Smartphone app
    Headquarters: US

    Smart Vaccination Certificate

    Sponsor: World Health Organization
    Format: Digital certificate
    Headquarters: Switzerland

    Travel Pass

    Sponsor: International Air Transport Association
    Format: Smartphone app, paper ID
    Headquarters: Canada

    Vaccine Credential Initiative

    Sponsors: CARIN Alliance, Cerner, Change Healthcare, The Commons Project Foundation, Epic, Evernorth, Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, MITRE, Oracle, Safe Health, Salesforce
    Format: Digital wallet, paper cards with QR codes
    Headquarters: US

    Read a comprehensive list here. While a great showcase of ingenuity and responsiveness, the free market for Covid-19 passport solutions creates problems. Experts contend that when it comes to travel health credentials, being understood across borders matters more than choice.

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  • Keep reading

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