Confidence in travel is growing stronger as countries begin to lift Covid-19 restrictions but more needs to be done to restore full connectivity, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Thursday.
In its latest report, the global airline association released data indicating an 11-percentage point increase in international ticket sales sold over the last few weeks compared to pre-pandemic 2019 sales. The improvement between the January and February periods is the fastest such increase for any two-week period since the Covid crisis began, according to IATA analysts.
“Momentum toward normalizing traffic is growing. Vaccinated travelers have the potential to travel much more extensively with fewer hassles than even a few weeks ago. This is giving growing numbers of travelers the confidence to buy tickets,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh.
IATA attributed the increase in ticket sales to the relaxation of Covid-19 border restrictions. Walsh stressed, however, that connectivity is far below 2019 levels and that the removal of travel controls must be accelerated.
“Thirteen of the top 50 travel markets still do not provide easy access to all vaccinated travelers. That includes major economies like China, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Italy,” said Walsh.
According to an IATA survey, 18 markets (accounting for 20 percent of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine or pre-departure testing requirements; 28 markets are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine requirements both comprising about 50 percent of 2019 demand. At the same time, 37 markets (comprising about 60 percent of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers under varying conditions.
In view of the data, IATA is calling for the removal of all travel measures including quarantine and testing for fully vaccinated travelers; enabling quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travelers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result; and lifting travel bans.
“Travel restrictions have had a severe impact on people and on economies. They have not, however, stopped the spread of the virus. And it is time for their removal as we learn to live and travel in a world that will have risks of Covid-19 for the foreseeable future,” Walsh said.