Aviation and Tourism Organizations Work Toward RecoveryBy Alicia Arizpe | Fri, 02/12/2021 - 14:05
Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) joined forces to streamline the implementation of measures that ensure passenger safety and compliance with international regulations to reactivate the two suffering industries.
Mexico’s aviation and tourism industries faced a rough 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of foreign visitors falling by 46 percent year-on-year, according to INEGI. This drop in tourism had severe repercussions in touristic destinations and led to widespread jobs and small business losses. Moreover, the sector projects that 2021 will continue to see less tourists than in 2019. To reverse this trend and lift the burden from an already troubled industry, SECTUR is joining forces with IATA to speed up the implementation of the latter’s Travel Pass, which consists of an app that facilitates compliance with travel requirements regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccination, once available. Travel Pass aims to “ensure that travelers, governments and the industry have access to reliable, cost effective, easy to use, efficient, interoperable and secure systems,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of IATA.
The app, which is being continuously upgraded to increase its capabilities and is expected to be finished by March, aims to collect information on different country’s entry requirements and on the available testing and vaccination centers. It will also allow users to upload their testing results or vaccination certificates to show them to travel authorities if required, in what IATA calls a “travel passport.” These measures are expected to facilitate international travel as several countries are requiring proof of a COVID-19 negative test before boarding a flight.
Travel Pass is currently in line to be tested by Emirates, Etihad Airways and Copa Airlines. These trials will begin in March or April, depending on the airline, for destinations chosen by the airlines. They will provide critical feedback to improve the program and eventually expand it to a growing number of interested users. “An international standard solution for digital health passports, such as IATA’s Travel Pass, holds the key to the safe restart of the travel and tourism industry, which is an important contributor to Panama’s and Latin America’s economy,” said Dan Gunn, Senior Vice President for Operations at Copa Airlines.
IATA’s app, or a similar one, could help travelers to comply with the travel requirements of several countries such as the US and Canada. In the meantime, local airlines are implanting measures to facilitate international travel. For example, Mexican airlines Volaris and Viva Aerobus are offering quick antigen testing at local airports that fly to the US.