With the COVID Passports starting trials and vaccines slowly being distributed globally, we look at the proposed travel pass schemes and if Cambodia is looking to adopt them?
Digital certificates, health passports, and other measures are some of the options countries and airlines are trialling to relaunch global travel and tourism. Cambodia is heavily reliant on this to boost the economy but the safety of its people is paramount.
The World Health Organization (WHO) “advised against requiring vaccinations to travel” on Monday 8h March 2021. They fear that this would “exclude certain groups from travelling and further marginalise those with unequal access to vaccines” and in a statement said: “At the present time, it is WHO’s position that national authorities and travel operators should not introduce requirements of proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travel as a condition for departure or entry.”
According to a report in the Khmer Times, Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said he wasn’t aware of any vaccinations requirements being considered for travellers entering or leaving Cambodia.
An analyst, John DeCree, told GGR Asia that about 40 direct international flights were now arriving in Cambodia, adding: “The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism (MOT) is working on a plan to establish a tightly-secured travel bubble with China, Japan, and South Korea, that would further help improve international tourism.”
With the past week’s rollout of the vaccinations in Cambodia leading to some confusion among expats, Cambodians, embassies and the hospitals at which they should be administered, any plans to adopt a COVID passport would need careful planning from the authorities.
The British Embassy Phnom Penh for example posted: “We are aware of reports requesting foreigners to get letters and completed forms (from their embassies) in order to get COVID19 vaccinations at hospitals.
We have confirmed with the MFA that embassies have not been requested to supply these documents. We have reached out to the Ministry of Health to clarify the correct procedure for foreign residences in Cambodia to be vaccinated.”
We have seen confirmed reports that successful recipients of the vaccines in Cambodia do receive a card with a QR code to confirm the date and type of vaccination.
Below are some examples of plans being looked at in the region to move towards COVID Passports.
Singapore Airlines – Coronavirus digital travel pass
Singapore Airlines is the first airline to pilot the coronavirus digital travel pass, as early as mid-March. The pilot scheme was developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and “will store information on passengers’ health, including whether they have had virus tests or vaccines, to streamline travel as borders reopen.”
Nick Careen from IATA said: “Our partnership with Singapore Airlines for the first full deployment of the IATA Travel Pass will help get the world flying again.”
Travellers heading from Singapore to London between March 15 and 28, 2021 will be the first to be offered the chance to participate, reports the Phnom Penh Post.
However, passengers will need a mobile phone with the iOS system and a pre-departure Covid-19 test.
Other airlines who have expressed an interest in signing up for the trial of the Coronavirus digital travel pass, include Air New Zealand and Emirates.
China – Virus Passports
China introduced the first “virus passports” on Tuesday 9 March 2021. The digital certificate shows a user’s vaccination status and virus test results and is available for Chinese citizens via WeChat.
China’s virus passport includes an encrypted QR code that allows authorities to obtain a traveller’s health information reports Al Jazeera.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in Taiwan lifted the ban on international passengers transiting via Taiwan Taoyuan Airport, effective from 1 March 2021.
The restrictions were “lifted only for the entry of foreign visitors starting March 1, 2021 and allow shorter quarantine periods for business travellers from countries deemed as being at low or low-to-moderate risk for COVID-19.”
Business travellers coming from certain countries are able to apply to shorten their quarantine periods from 14 days to as few as five days.
The countries include New Zealand, Macau, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Thailand – COVID passports
Coconuts reports that Thailand may have COVID passports in place as soon as April 2021, after Disease Control officials approved plans for them.
Vaccine certificates will also be issued to anyone receiving their second dose of CoronaVac on March 21, 2021. These certificates will be in the form of booklets and a physical and electronic version will cost THB50 each (around USD$2).
Foreign travellers who have a COVID-free certificate will only need to endure a ten-day quarantine as soon as April.
The government is optimistic they could also be used to “travel abroad to participating destinations as no COVID passport system has been standardized by the WHO. The passports will expire after a year” reports Coconuts.
Indonesia – Bali Green Zones
In March 2021, three tourist destinations in Bali were officially designated “green zones” with the plan to reopen them to foreign visitors.
Ubud, Sanur, and Nusa Dua were identified and would be part of a new “COVID-19 safe travel” strategy reports indicate.
Bali Governor Wayan Koster said, “This Free COVID Corridor Program is a precondition for steps to reopen tourism to foreign tourists.”