Travel Council calls Covid-19 vaccine requirement ‘discriminatory’

Some policymakers suggest that immunization should be necessary for air travel. (AP photo)

The president of the World Travel and Tourism Council said on Monday that the Coronavirus vaccination request for international travel is similar to workplace discrimination and should be rejected.

“We should never ask for vaccination to get a job or to travel,” said Chief Industry Officer Gloria Guevara, speaking at the next Reuters conference committee.

As governments race to spread vaccines and stem the coronavirus epidemic, some policymakers have suggested that immunization should be necessary for air travel. Qantas Airlines said it plans to make such a requirement.

“I totally disagree with the Qantas approach,” said Guevara, whose organization represents a sector that accounts for up to 10% of the global employment. “If you need to be vaccinated before traveling, that leads to discrimination.”

She added that airline safety protocols and in-flight air filtration mean that passengers “have less chance of getting Covid in a plane (compared to) at the supermarket.” “We need to protect vulnerable groups and prioritize vaccination for them.”

Guevara’s comments contrasted with the majority of the committee’s online viewers, who supported a vaccine demand according to a rapid poll conducted by conference organizers. But it got support from AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandez, who said global testing protocols were still key to unlocking travel.

Fernandez said he was nonetheless “pessimistic” about countries’ willingness to accept each other’s tests and certificates, with the possibility that many Asian countries would request vaccinations.

“There is a huge lack of confidence out there right now,” said Fernandez. Countries will say, ‘Was this PCR test done to our standards? “Governments are becoming incredibly patriotic.”

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