“Asia-Pacific is playing catch-up on restarting travel after COVID-19, but there is growing momentum with governments lifting many travel restrictions. The demand for people to travel is clear,” Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, stated in his keynote address at the Changi Aviation Summit on Tuesday, May 17.
“As soon as measures are relaxed there is an immediate positive reaction from travelers. So it is critical that all stakeholders, including governments are well-prepared for the restart. We cannot delay. Jobs are at stake and people want to travel,” he urged.
The Asia-Pacific region’s international passenger demand for March reached 17 percent of pre-Covid levels, after having hovered at below 10 percent for most of the last two years.
“This is far below the global trend where markets have recovered to 60 percent of pre-crisis levels,” according to Walsh.
“The lag is because of government restrictions. The sooner they are lifted, the sooner we will see a recovery in the region’s travel and tourism sector, and all the economic benefits that will bring,” he underscored.
Asia-Pacific governments to continue easing measures and bring normalcy to air travel removing all restrictions for vaccinated travelers.
They should scrap quarantine and Covid-19 testing for unvaccinated travelers where there are high levels of population immunity, which is the case in most parts of Asia.
The mask mandate for air travel should be lifted when it is no longer required in other indoor environments and public transport.
“Supporting and more importantly accelerating the recovery will need a whole of industry and government approach. Airlines are bringing back the flights. Airports need to be able to handle the demand. And governments need to be able to process security clearances and other documentation for key personnel efficiently,” Walsh pointed out.
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