Travel industry must ‘roll with the knocks’ amid Covid uncertainty, travel services company says

The travel industry will have to “roll with its fists” as government requirements continue to evolve with the pandemic, according to the Asia-Pacific president of a travel services company.

“The bottom line is that the industry stays on the move for the foreseeable future,” Collinson Group’s Todd Handcock told TBEN’s “Squawk Box Asia” Wednesday.

He pointed out that Hong Kong this week announced plans to ban flights from eight countries, after chief executive Carrie Lam said the city was “facing a very serious situation due to a major community epidemic in any time”.

In contrast, the UK is set to relax testing requirements for fully vaccinated travelers, Handcock added.

Testing and vaccinations will continue to be part of the travel process for 2022 and possibly 2023, he said, referring to a recent Collinson survey conducted with CAPA – Center for Aviation.

“We’re going to have to keep rolling with the punches and adjusting as things change,” he said.

He also said he didn’t expect omicron to make any “significant” changes.

Goals and obstacles ahead

When asked if testing and checking vaccine status could be made easier for travel, Handcock said the goal was to have an interoperable digital system that can be used around the world.

But he added: “We are still a long way away” from that.

Raising vaccination rates around the world would also be good for anyone who travels, he said.

Developed countries have taken the initiative to offer boosters, when much of the world has not been vaccinated, he said.

Echoing the sentiments of experts such as those at the World Health Organization, he added that variants of Covid will emerge as long as there are large unvaccinated populations.

About 59% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine – but only 8.8% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, according to data collected by Our World in Data.

The WHO said on Thursday that the uneven distribution of vaccines would hurt the global economic recovery and that low vaccine coverage in many countries was a major factor in the emergence of variants such as delta and omicron.