ASEAN governments urged to work on a digital vaccine certificate to kickstart tourism recovery

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Having an ASEAN Digital Covid-19 Certificate will facilitate the safe restart of regional travel, says FATA.
Photo: TTG Asia

The Federation of ASEAN Travel Association (FATA) is calling on South-east Asian governments to work out a common and acceptable vaccine passport protocol to jumpstart intra-regional travel.

ASEAN, comprising 10 countries in South-east Asia, has a combined population of 661.5 million people.

With most South-east Asian countries fast-tracking their national immunisation programmes, FATA foresees international borders will be reopened soon and vaccine passports will play a crucial role in the restoration of regional tourism.

FATA president, KL Tan, stressed: “A uniformed set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) must be in place to avoid confusion and anxiety, and to provide a seamless travel experience. IATA Travel Pass and WHO vaccine passports to facilitate international travel need to be considered by (South-east Asian) countries along with our own ASEAN Digital Covid-19 Certificate, a joint collaborative effort by ASEAN governments.

“Having such (a digital vaccine passport) would be a practical solution towards validating passenger risk status before travel, (and) ensuring the smoothest possible experience for air and land passengers/travellers alike. It is essential to have such a certificate to support the reopening of safe travel. A well-coordinated approach would help avoid unnecessary stress for passengers and travellers, especially those travelling by air.

“Ideally, the ASEAN Digital Covid-19 Certificate will provide information on proof of vaccination, show if a person holds a negative SARS-COV-2 test result, or has recovered from Covid-19.”

Tan opined that in order to reap the full benefits of the ASEAN Digital Covid-19 Certificate, it will require the harmonisation of the verification protocol among ASEAN member countries.

To avoid duplication (i.e. checks by multiple operators – airlines, immigration, public authorities, etc.) and confusion, FATA recommends a ‘one-stop’ verification process prior to departure, involving coordination between authorities, airports and airlines.

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