‘The technology for rapid-antigen testing has improved tremendously and the accuracy is actually really up there, quite close to PCR tests. The costs are less and the results
are easily obtained.
‘If you have to wait even a few hours to get your results before you can travel it is a problem to potential travellers. Here in Australia there had been that discussion – why not use rapid-antigen testing? But the government is not keen, even for domestic uses. However, in Asia, some places have started using rapid-antigen testing for access to various venues.’
Julius Garcia Neri, CEO and general manager of Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority, Philippines says authorities should be encouraged to follow the same regulations.
‘That way, people know what to expect when they go from one country to another, one destination to another. Otherwise, you’ll end up preparing five different requirements for five different places. That definitely distracts people from wanting to travel.
‘It’s difficult, especially in a place like the Philippines where you have 7000 islands and each island has different policies – if you go to this island you need an antigen test, go to another island you need an RT-PCR test, you go to this island you need to be quarantined. So the local government units can’t agree – it makes it very difficult for us.’
Vaccine certificates confusion could hamper recovery
The lack of an internationally recognised vaccine certification system could hinder travel recovery as many travellers are left confused about quarantine requirements and travel restrictions. With varying rules, some may opt for domestic trips, dealing a blow to destinations that are dependent on international visitation, says data and analytics company GlobalData.
Gus Gardner, associate travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, says vaccines were hailed as a travel enabler and a glimmer of hope for the industry. ‘However, fragmented rules and a lack of mutual agreements continue to restrict travel, with travel restrictions being the second biggest deterrent to travel for 55% of respondents in a GlobalData poll (58% cited quarantine requirements).
‘Travellers have been left confused over how to provide their vaccination status with varying rules across destinations. For some destinations, travellers need to jump through several hoops to prove their status, and if traveling to numerous countries, the process often differs. Even though it appears restrictions have eased, the complexity of proving vaccination will continue to be a barrier.’
Gardner says proof of vaccination seems to be an afterthought of the vaccine rollout. The lack of digitalised records in some countries, including the US, makes proving vaccinated status laborious. IATA’s travel pass was hailed as an industry solution but uptake has been poor, and there has been limited government integration.