KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Repeated surveys of passengers during the pandemic has shown that testing and especially quarantine are major barriers to travel, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The regional variations in the degree of openness among the markets are stark, with travel in Asia remaining heavily compromised by COVID-19 restrictions, it noted.
“While North American and European international traffic rebounded to -42 per cent of their 2019 peaks last year, traffic in Asia Pacific remained at -88 per cent.
“Even in this region, however, there has been some progress, with India and Malaysia among the countries recently announcing relaxation of restrictions,” it said in a statement today.
IATA noted that the easing of measures reflects the growing consensus that travel restrictions such as border closures and quarantine do little to control the spread of COVID-19.
It further shared that an IATA survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets (comprising 88 per cent of international demand in 2019 as measured by revenue passenger kilometres) revealed the growing access available to vaccinated travellers.
“Twenty-five markets representing 38 per cent of 2019 international demand are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine measures or testing requirements, up from 18 markets (28 per cent of 2019 international demand) in mid-February.
“Thirty-eight markets representing 65 per cent of 2019 international demand are open to vaccinated travellers with no quarantine requirements, up from 28 markets (50 per cent of 2019 international demand) in mid-February,” it said.
IATA director-general Willie Walsh said as population immunity grows, more governments are managing COVID-19 through surveillance, as they do for other endemic viruses.
“That is great news for a growing number of destinations that will receive a much-needed economic boost from the upcoming Easter and Northern Summer travel seasons. Asia is the outlier.
“Hopefully, recent relaxations including Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the Philippines are paving the way towards restoring the freedom to travel that is more broadly enjoyed in other parts of the world,” said Walsh.