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Vaccination passports: Important in re-opening Asian markets

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A common vaccination passport in Asia will be vital in giving ‘conservative’ governments the confidence to restore international connectivity.

Vaccination passports, according to Fukuoka International Airport’s CCO Chin Leong Teo, can play a vital part in the revival of aviation across Asia, but the sector and governments must establish common ground and ensure the solution is used as an enabler rather than an additional constraint.

Chin Leong, speaking as part of a recent webinar concentrating on the Asia-Pacific market, stated that Asian governments are “more cautious and conservative” than those in Europe or the United States, which would “continue to drive some of the cross-border policies.”

“Vaccine passports will be very important,” he says, “but we need uniformity and mutual recognition across all platforms and systems.” “And we sincerely hope that they aid rather than delay recovery, because it is possible that people will be unable to travel without a vaccine passport.”

Despite the possible significance of vaccine passports, Chin Leong believes PCR testing will remain a feature of international travel for the foreseeable future due to government conservatism.

“My impression is that passports will be mixed with a heavy dose of PCR testing,” he said. “I believe few Asian nations will abandon arrival PCR tests, and many will continue to insist on pre-departure PCR tests, at least in the medium term.”

Although Japan’s position as an island chain ensures that domestic demand will remain relatively strong, international flights accounted for the majority of market growth prior to the epidemic.

“From 2013 to 2018, we had close to 17% compound annual growth rates in foreign traffic, which more than doubled our international traffic from little over 3 million in 2013 to 6.8 million in 2018,” he said.

“The majority of this is driven by inbound tourism, which includes visitors from Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore, among other places. Now that COVID has eliminated a large portion of our overseas traffic, we are only managing about 1%.”“The majority of this is driven by inbound tourism, which includes visitors from Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore, among other places. Now that COVID has eliminated a large portion of our overseas traffic, we are only managing about 1%.”

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