Country health data has become an important – if not the main – variable in the equation that determines what international travel looks like in the post-pandemic period and when that post will be.
Since these definitions depend on factors that change frequently, many questions on the topic do not have exact answers. But there is already a body of information that suggests the next steps.
For Brazilians, the country’s crisis is slowing the revival of international tourism. Just over a year and four months since the first case of Covid was identified in Brazil, the moving average of deaths continues to exceed 1,500 and only around 17% of the adult population is fully immune.
Which countries can Brazilians travel to today? Today, Brazilian tourists are accepted in around 75 countries, most of which require a negative Covid test 72 hours before arrival and a quarantine period, which varies from one to two weeks.
But this is information that changes frequently, with health authorities in each country periodically reviewing the permissions granted to foreign travelers. One of the factors usually taken into account is the number of new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population in the last 14 days – which should not exceed 75. In Brazil, the current proportion is 398 / 100,000, according to the data calculated by the consortium. press vehicles, of which Folha is one.
There are few reliable databases that collect this information. One option is the virtual card of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in which it is possible, one by one, to observe whether countries accept Brazilians and what they need for the trip. This type of information is also generally made available by airlines and on the websites of local authorities in each country.
When can we expect a return to normal travel? This horizon depends on various factors related to public health. On balance, there is the progress of vaccination, the rates of transmission in the country of origin and destination of the traveler and the possible emergence of new variants.
If state immunization schedules are met, Brazil is expected to see greater international openness for travel in December – likely Brazilians with co-morbidities and those over 18 will already be fully immunized, with two doses of the vaccine or with a single dose.
In addition to Brazil’s internal scenario, there is an external factor which should provide the countries with elements to decide whether or not to open their borders: the end of the summer season in Europe, in mid-September. The advance of vaccination on the continent was showing good signs, but the outlook is now cautious. “We were very optimistic, but two situations turned on the yellow light: the rate of contamination among young people during the Euro Cup and the arrival of the delta variant, especially in the United Kingdom”, explains the researcher and professor at USP (University of São Paulo) Mariana Aldrigui.
General manager of Iata in Brazil, Dany Oliveira, says he is working with the estimate that by 2022 the global number of passengers will reach 88% of pre-pandemic levels. By 2023, these levels would be exceeded.
Will the vaccination record I received at the clinic be useful if I want to travel abroad? So far yes. Brazilian tourists can also access the Connect SUS app, developed by the Ministry of Health, and issue the digital coronavirus vaccination certificate, available in Portuguese, English and Spanish.
The most advisable, at a time when the protocols still vary a lot, is to have in hand the two certificates – the one received when taking the vaccine and the one delivered online – observes the global director of advertising and business institutional structures of the company Decolar. , Bruna Milet.
In the case of a trip to a country which requires the tourist to be vaccinated, it is also essential to check whether this destination accepts the drug with which the tourist has been immunized, information which can be verified with the local authorities of the country. , travel agencies or airline companies. But the use of this type of evidence is set to become obsolete as the flow of international travel increases. “The world is moving towards digital management of certificates and test results,” says Oliveira of Iata.
Brazil is also discussing the creation of the Vaccination and Health Security Certificate, a document that allows people who have tested negative for Covid or who are vaccinated to circulate in public and private spaces. A bill on the subject has been approved in the Senate and is now awaiting an assessment by the Chamber of Deputies. But beware: this would only have an impact on domestic tourism.
In Europe, there is a digital vaccination certificate. What is its function ? The European Union has standardized a digital certificate that centralizes information for citizens and residents of the 27 member states of the bloc and the Schengen area, which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It entered into force on July 1.
With the certificate, residents began to move more easily across internal borders. Member countries must allow entry of those who, with the document, prove they have tested negative for the coronavirus or are fully vaccinated with vaccines approved by the European Regulatory Agency (EMA) – on time currently, vaccines developed by Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Janssen. As usual with the agreements signed in the bloc, each country has the sovereignty to impose or remove any restrictions depending on its internal situation. So far, Switzerland and Croatia have announced that they will accept people immunized with Coronavac, developed by Chinese Sinovac and also made in Brazil.
Foreigners do not have access to this document. But currently, the European Union allows free entry for tourists from 26 countries, such as the United States, Australia and Japan. Brazil is not on the list.
Are there any plans to have this certificate worldwide? There is still no trace of an international certificate of vaccination against Covid validated by organizations such as the WHO (World Health Organization). But simplification and integration of vouchers are on the horizon. So far, this type of initiative has come from private entities.
Iata, for example, works alongside the International Civil Aviation Organization and the WHO to standardize vaccination and testing certificates and promote mutual recognition between countries. The association is developing the Iata Travel Pass, an application in the testing phase which, among other information, must collect the vaccination certificate, the results of the tests for the coronavirus and whether the person has already had the disease or not.
What is the role of WHO in this matter? How did the organization express itself? WHO has the role of providing guidance and approvals, and countries may or may not comply. Regarding the opening of borders, the decision depends much more on the health situation and bilateral relations between nations, or between countries forming blocks (such as the European Union and Mercosur).
The organization came under pressure, but little was said about vaccination certificates or so-called passports. In early February, he released an interim position on the issue, in which he said he opposed the introduction of vaccination requirements for international travel. The position was based on two scientific and ethical arguments: 1) it takes more time to understand the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing the transmission of new variants; 2) this type of initiative could worsen inequalities in vaccine distribution between countries.
Last Thursday (1), the global Covax Facility consortium, led by WHO, called on “all national and local authorities, when opening their borders, to recognize as fully immunized all people who have received an approved vaccine. by WHO ”. The statement came on the same day the organization approved the Coronavac vaccine.
What is the impact of domestic politics in speeding up or delaying a greater volume of international travel by Brazilians? Just as the national economy dictates, in part, the flow of tourism from the country – the appreciation of the currency, for example, can facilitate the demand for travel – so a country’s decisions about health are important, too. more in the context of a pandemic. Advances in vaccination and disease control policies, in addition to sending positive messages to other nations, are controlling the spread of the virus and making residents more likely to be accepted as tourists.
The Brazilian case has obstacles. The advance of the virus, with high numbers, and recent investigations into the federal government’s failure to fight the pandemic are hurting the country. “We urgently need a review of policies and clearer messages for the international community,” said Mariana Aldrigui, USP. “It would speed up the return to normalcy.”
Should the travel profile change after the pandemic? For the three specialists interviewed by Folha, this is unlikely. Bruna Milet, from Decolar, says the trips will have a festive character, as there is a great demand from Brazilians. It is possible, she says, to plan for longer trips and with higher per capita spending, but it is difficult to establish how long that will last.
USP’s Aldrigui says 2022 is expected to see an explosion in consumption (which includes tourism) and that despite tourists seeking greater well-being and control of health protocols on domestic travel It is possible that the high price of these requirements on international travel are determining. “When the exclusive becomes expensive, we come back to the collective.”