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International Organizations

IATA Warns Governments on High Cost of Testing

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IATA Warns Governments on High Cost of Testing

Geneva, Switzerland, July 31, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments to take action to address the high cost of COVID-19 tests in many jurisdictions and urged flexibility in permitting the use of cost-effective antigen tests as an alternative to more expensive PCR tests. IATA also recommended governments adopt recent World Health Organization (WHO) guidance to consider exempting vaccinated travelers from testing requirements.

According to IATA’s most recent traveler survey, 86% of respondents are willing to get tested. But 70% also believe that the cost of testing is a significant barrier to travel, while 78% believe governments should bear the cost of mandatory testing.

“IATA supports COVID-19 testing as a pathway to reopen borders to international travel. But our support is not unconditional. In addition to being reliable, testing needs to be easily accessible, affordable, and appropriate to the risk level. Too many governments, however, are falling short on some or all of these. The cost of testing varies widely between jurisdictions, with little relation to the actual cost of conducting the test. The UK is the poster child for governments failing to adequately manage testing. At best it is expensive, at worst extortionate. And in either case, it is a scandal that the government is charging VAT,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

The new generation of rapid tests cost less than $10 per test. Provided a confirmatory rRT-PCR test is administered for positive test results, WHO guidance sees Ag-RDT antigen testing as an acceptable alternative to PCR. And, where testing is a mandatory requirement, the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHRs) state that neither passengers nor carriers should bear the cost of testing.

Testing also needs to be appropriate to the threat level. For example, in the UK, the latest National Health Service data on testing arriving travelers show that more than 1.37 million tests were conducted on arrivals from so-called Amber countries. Just 1% tested positive over four months. Meanwhile, nearly three times that number of positive cases are being detected in the general population daily.

“Data from the UK government confirms that international travelers pose little to no risk of importing COVID-19 compared to existing levels of infection in the country. At the very least therefore, the UK government should follow WHO guidance and accept antigen tests which are fast, affordable and effective, with a confirmatory PCR test for those who test positive. This could be a pathway for enabling even unvaccinated people access to travel,” Walsh said.

Restarting international travel is vital to supporting the 46 million travel and tourism jobs around the world that rely on aviation. “Our latest survey confirms that the high cost of testing will bear heavily on the shape of the travel recovery. It makes little sense for governments to take steps to reopen borders, if those steps make the cost of travel prohibitive to most people. We need a restart that is affordable for all,” said Walsh.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

IATA: Air Travel Recovery Continues to Disappoint

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IATA: Air Travel Recovery Continues to Disappoint - AIRLINEHUB.comGeneva, Switzerland, July 29, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced passenger demand performance for June 2021 showing a very slight improvement in both international and domestic air travel markets. Demand remains significantly below pre-COVID-19 levels owing to international travel restrictions.

As comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted, all comparisons are to June 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.

  • Total demand for air travel in June 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) was down 60.1% compared to June 2019. That was a small improvement over the 62.9% decline recorded in May 2021 versus May 2019.
  • International passenger demand in June was 80.9% below June 2019, an improvement from the 85.4% decline recorded in May 2021 versus two years ago. All regions with the exception of Asia-Pacific contributed to the slightly higher demand.
  • Total domestic demand was down 22.4% versus pre-crisis levels (June 2019), a slight gain over the 23.7% decline recorded in May 2021 versus the 2019 period. The performance across key domestic markets was mixed with Russia reporting robust expansion while China returned to negative territory.

“We are seeing movement in the right direction, particularly in some key domestic markets. But the situation for international travel is nowhere near where we need to be. June should be the start of peak season, but airlines were carrying just 20% of 2019 levels. That’s not a recovery, it’s a continuing crisis caused by government inaction,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

International Passenger Markets

  • Asia-Pacific airlines’ June international traffic fell 94.6% compared to June 2019, unchanged from the 94.5% decline in May 2021 versus May 2019. The region had the steepest traffic declines for an eleventh consecutive month. Capacity dropped 86.7% and the load factor was down 48.3 percentage points to 33.1%, the lowest among regions.
  • European carriers saw their June international traffic decline 77.4% versus June 2019, a gain from the 85.5% decrease in May compared to the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 67.3% and load factor fell 27.1 percentage points to 60.7%.
  • Middle Eastern airlines posted a 79.4% demand drop in June compared to June 2019, improving from the 81.3% decrease in May, versus the same month in 2019. Capacity declined 65.3% and load factor deteriorated 31.1 percentage points to 45.3%.
  • North American carriers’ June demand fell 69.6% compared to the 2019 period, improving from the 74.2% decline in May versus two years ago. Capacity sank 57.3%, and load factor dipped 25.3 percentage points to 62.6%.
  • Latin American airlines saw a 69.4% drop in June traffic compared to the same month in 2019, improved over the 75.3% decline in May compared to May 2019. June capacity fell 64.6% and load factor dropped 11.3 percentage points to 72.7%, which was the highest load factor among the regions for the ninth consecutive month.
  • African airlines’ traffic fell 68.2% in June versus the same month two years ago, an improvement from the 71.5% decline in May compared to May 2019. June capacity contracted 60.0% versus June 2019, and load factor declined 14.5 percentage points to 56.5%.

Domestic Passenger Markets

  • China’s domestic traffic returned to negative territory in June, declining 10.8% compared to June 2019, following a 6.3% growth in May versus the same period in 2019. New restrictions had been introduced following a COVID-19 outbreak in several Chinese cities.
  • US domestic traffic improved from a 25.4% decline in May versus the same month in 2019, to a 14.9% decline in June. Life in the US was starting to see some normalcy following the easing of measures and the rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination.

The Bottom Line

“With each passing day the hope of seeing a significant revival in international traffic during the Northern Hemisphere summer grows fainter. Many governments are not following the data or the science to restore the basic freedom of movement. Despite growing numbers of vaccinated people and improved testing capacity we are very close to losing another peak summer season on the important trans-Atlantic market. And the UK’s flip-flop to reinstate quarantine for vaccinated arrivals from France is the kind of policy development that destroys consumer confidence when it is most needed,” said Walsh.

“A risk-managed re-connecting of the world is what we need. Vaccinated travelers should have their freedom of movement returned. An efficient testing regime can sufficiently manage risks for those unable to be vaccinated. This is the underlying message in the latest WHO travel guidance. Some governments are moving in this direction. The UK, Singapore and Canada have indicated timelines to open their borders without quarantine for vaccinated travelers. The European Commission has recommended that its member states adopt travel protocols that are closely aligned with the WHO—including testing for unvaccinated travelers. Similar moves to re-open borders in line with the WHO guidance by US—leaders in vaccinating their populations—would give critical impetus to demonstrating that we can live and travel while managing the risks of COVID-19,” said Walsh.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

IATA: Passengers Confident in Onboard Safety

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IATA: Passengers Confident in Onboard Safety - TRAVELINDEXGeneva, Switzerland, July 26, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that based on its latest passenger survey conducted in June, most air travelers are confident about the safety of air travel and support mask-wearing in the near-term. However, a majority are also frustrated with the “hassle factor” around COVID-19 protocols, including confusion and uncertainty about travel rules, testing requirements, and excessive test costs.

The survey of 4,700 travelers in 11 markets around the world shows that:

  • 85% believe aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
  • 65% agree the air on an aircraft is as clean as an operating room

Among those who have traveled since June 2020, 86% felt safe onboard owing to COVID-19 measures:

  • 89% believe protective measures are well implemented
  • 90% believe airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures

Passengers strongly support mask wearing onboard (83%) and strict enforcement of mask rules (86%), but a majority also believe the mask requirement should be ended as soon as possible.

“Air travelers recognize and value the safety measures put in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel. And they support the continuation of these measures as long as necessary, but they also don’t want the measures to become permanent. In the meantime, we all need to respect the rules and the safety of fellow passengers. It is unacceptable that unruly passenger incidents have doubled compared to 2019, and the increase in physically abusive behavior is a particular cause for great concern,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

At the same time, participants admit that they struggle with the COVID-related rules and requirements and that this impacts their willingness to travel:

  • 70% thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand
  • 67% saw arranging testing as a hassle
  • 89% agreed governments must standardize vaccinations/testing certifications

“These responses should be a wake-up call to governments that they need to do a better job of preparing for a restart. Almost two thirds of respondents plan to resume travel within a few months of the pandemic being contained (and borders opened). And by the six-month mark almost 85% expect to be back to travel. To avoid overwhelming airports and border control authorities, governments need to agree to replace paper-based processes with digital solutions like the IATA Travel Pass for vaccine and testing documentation,” said Walsh.

Almost nine out of ten respondents like the idea of using a mobile app to store their travel health credentials and 87% support a secure digital system to manage health credentials. However, 75% say they will only use an app if they have full control of their vaccine/test data. “IATA Travel Pass enables travelers to receive, store and share their health information with governments and airlines but they always keep control of the information on their own mobile device. Now is the time for governments to facilitate digital solutions like IATA Travel Pass to avoid chaos at airports as travel begins to return,” said Walsh.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

European Commission Decisions Out of Touch with Reality, Damages Sustainability

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European Commission Decisions Out of Touch with Reality, Damages Sustainability

Geneva, Switzerland, July 24, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) branded the European Commission’s (EC) decision to set the winter slot use threshold at 50% as “out of touch with reality,” and argued that the EC had ignored the advice and evidence presented by EU member states and the airline industry, which had made the case for a much lower threshold.

The EC’s announcement means that, from November to April, airlines operating at slot-regulated airports must use at least half of every single series of slots they hold. There is no alleviation to hand back slots at the start of the season allowing airlines to match their schedule to realistic demand or enable other carriers to operate. Additionally, the rule on ‘force majeure’, by which the slot rule is suspended if exceptional circumstances related to the COVID pandemic are in effect, has been switched off for intra-EU operations.

The result of these changes will be to restrict the ability of airlines to operate with the agility needed to respond to unpredictable and rapidly changing demand, leading to environmentally wasteful and unnecessary flights. It will also further weaken the financial stability of the industry and hinder the recovery of the global air transport network.

“Once again the Commission has shown they are out of touch with reality. The airline industry is still facing the worst crisis in its history. The Commission had an open goal to use the slots regulation to promote a sustainable recovery for airlines, but they missed. Instead, they have shown contempt for the industry, and for the many member states that repeatedly urged a more flexible solution, by stubbornly pursuing a policy that is contrary to all the evidence presented to them,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

The Commission’s argument is that the intra-EU traffic recovery this summer justified a 50% use threshold with no alleviation. This flies in the face of significant evidence of the uncertain outlook for traffic demand this winter, provided by key EU member states as well as IATA and its members. For example:

  • The extent of intra-EU recovery is at best only a partial indicator of the extent of recovery at slot-constrained airports, where the key slots are needed for global traffic connections which have not yet recovered. IATA estimates that international travel will only reach 34% of 2019 levels by end of 2021 (see chart 1 below).
  • Winter demand always tracks below Summer demand, even in good years. And the evidence of forward bookings is that they are trending well below levels seen last Winter (see chart 2). Long haul bookings for the EU are currently averaging 20% of 2019 levels.
  • Despite the roll-out of vaccines, governments continue to be extremely cautious about opening borders. Their response to variants of concern is still to close borders or instigate quarantine measures which instantly kills travel demand. It is clear that European air travel demand is still extremely weak and unpredictable (Chart 3).

Other regulators around the world have understood the arguments. Regulators in the UK, China, Latin America and Asia-Pacific have put much more flexible measures in place. Only the EU has dogmatically insisted that traffic will return at a rate far beyond any reasonable forecast.

“There is a rich irony that only a week after the Commission released its ‘Fit for 55’ carbon emissions plan, it publishes a slots regulation that may force airlines to fly regardless of whether sufficient demand for that route exists. Transport Commissioner Valean said ‘We need to act with ambition for our planet, but without punishing our citizens or businesses.’ Clearly, this decision on slots fails to meet these conditions,” said Walsh.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

Nominations Open for 2021 IATA Diversity and Inclusion Awards

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Nominations Open for 2021 IATA Diversity and Inclusion Awards

Geneva, Switzerland, July 19, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is inviting nominations for the 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Awards.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped the aviation industry’s agenda on diversity and inclusion. In fact, it has been an opportunity to redouble our efforts to improve our performance. Improving our gender balance, in particular, is a top priority as seen by the growing number of signatories to the IATA 25by2025 pledge. The second edition of the IATA Diversity and Inclusion Awards will once again highlight exceptional work in this area. Along with honoring those leading change, the awards aim to inspire even greater urgency in driving the changes needed to strengthen aviation with a commitment to diversity and inclusion at the industry’s highest levels of leadership,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

The Awards recognize three categories of Diversity and Inclusion leadership:

  • Inspirational Role Model Award: Recognizes a woman holding a senior position within the air transport industry who has had a significant impact on the aviation agenda through her strong contribution to business delivery, as well as her ongoing support of the diversity and inclusion agenda. Nominees are welcome from across the aviation industry.
  • High Flyer Award: Recognizes a young female aviation professional under the age of 40 who has demonstrated leadership through concrete action in favor of diversity and inclusion, making a positive impact on the industry. Open to all female professionals in the aviation industry.
  • Diversity & Inclusion Team Award: Recognizes an airline that has seen measurable change in diversity and inclusion as a result of the work it has been doing in this area. Open to all IATA member airlines.

The winners of each category will receive $25,000 in prize money sponsored by Qatar Airways payable to the awardee or their nominated charity working on diversity and inclusion projects.

“As an industry, we embrace diversity that reflects the nations and continents we serve, but we must continue to demonstrate leadership and identify greater opportunities to broaden the inclusive nature of aviation, ensuring that we benefit from an engaged workforce that feels valued and appreciated. We believe that supporting greater diversity and gender balance across the global aviation industry is a vital element for future success which is why we are supporting the IATA Diversity and Inclusion awards again this year,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker.

The 2021 nominations will be evaluated by an independent panel consisting of the 2019 recipients of the IATA Diversity and Inclusion Awards: Christine Ourmières-Widener, CEO of TAP Air Portugal; Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo, Founder and President of the Young African Aviation Professional Association; and Christina Kennedy, General Manager People – Operations and Employee Experience at Air New Zealand. The judging panel will be chaired by Karen Walker, Editor-in-Chief of Air Transport World.

The deadline for submitting nominations is 29 August 2021 at 18:00 CET. Full details for nominations can be found on the IATA website.

The winners of the 2021 IATA Diversity & Inclusion Awards will be announced at IATA’s 77th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit to be held in Boston, USA (3-5 October 2021).

The IATA Diversity and Inclusion Awards were launched in 2019 to recognize and celebrate the efforts to promote a more diverse and inclusive aviation industry. These annual awards were suspended in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

IATA: Tax is Not the Answer to Aviation Sustainability

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IATA: Tax is Not the Answer to Aviation Sustainability

Geneva, Switzerland, July 15, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that the reliance on taxation as the solution for cutting aviation emissions in the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ proposal is counter-productive to the goal of sustainable aviation. EU policy needs to support practical emission reduction measures such as incentives for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and modernization of air traffic management.

“Aviation is committed to decarbonization as a global industry. We don’t need persuading, or punitive measures like taxes to motivate change. In fact, taxes siphon money from the industry that could support emissions’ reducing investments in fleet renewal and clean technologies. To reduce emissions, we need governments to implement a constructive policy framework that, most immediately, focuses on production incentives for SAF and delivering the Single European Sky,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Comprehensive Approach

Achieving aviation decarbonization requires a combination of measures. These include:

  • Sustainable Aviation Fuels which reduce emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional jet fuel. Insufficient supply and high prices have limited airline uptake to 120 million litres in 2021 — a small fraction of the 350 billion litres that airlines would consume in a ‘normal’ year.
  • Market-based measures to manage emissions until technology solutions are fully developed. The industry supports the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) as a global measure for all international aviation. It avoids creating a patchwork of uncoordinated national or regional measures such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, that can undermine international cooperation. Overlapping schemes can lead to the same emissions being paid for more than once. IATA is extremely concerned by the Commission’s proposal that European States would no longer implement CORSIA on all international flights.
  • Single European Sky (SES) to reduce unnecessary emissions from fragmented air traffic management (ATM) and resulting inefficiencies. Modernizing European ATM through the SES initiative would cut  Europe’s aviation emissions between 6-10%, but national governments continue to delay implementation.
  • Radical new clean technologies. While it is unlikely that electric or hydrogen propulsion could have a significant impact on aviation emissions within the EU ‘Fit for 55’ timeframe of 2030, the development of these technologies is ongoing and needs to be supported.

“Aviation’s near-term vision is to provide sustainable, affordable air transport for all European citizens with SAF-powered fleets, operating with efficient air traffic management. We should all be worried that the EU’s big idea to decarbonize aviation is making jet fuel more expensive through tax. That will not get us to where we need to be. Taxation will destroy jobs. Incentivizing SAF will improve energy independence and create sustainable jobs. The focus must be on encouraging the production of SAF, and delivering the Single European Sky,” said Walsh.

Promoting SAF

The most practical near-term solution to reducing emissions is SAF. Energy transitions are successful when production incentives drive down the price of alternative fuels while driving supplies up. The EU ‘Fit for 55’ proposal does not include direct measures that will achieve this. Without specific measures to reduce SAF costs, it does, however, propose a mandate to increase SAF utilization to 2% of jet fuel use by 2025 and at least 5% by 2030.

“Making SAF cheaper will accelerate aviation’s energy transition and improve Europe’s competitiveness as a green economy. But making jet fuel more expensive through taxation scores an ‘own goal’ on competitiveness that does little to accelerate the commercialization of SAF,” said Walsh.

Mandating a gradual transition to SAF is a less efficient policy compared to comprehensive production incentives, but it may contribute to making SAF more affordable and widely available in Europe, but only under the following key conditions:

  • It is limited to EU-only flights. This will limit the negative impacts on the competitiveness of European air transport and potential political challenges from other countries
  • It is accompanied by policy measures to ensure a competitive market and appropriate production incentives. The mandated use of SAF must not allow energy companies to engage in uncompetitive practices with the resulting high costs being borne by airlines and passengers.
  • It is targeted at locations which have substantial airline operations and close proximity to SAF refineries.

Concrete actions on Single European Sky are urgently needed

The SES has been on the drawing board for 20 years but has made little progress despite the promise of a 6-10% improvement in environmental performance, safer operations and reduced delays.

“Europe’s national politicians are quick to lecture airlines on the efforts industry should be making on the environment. But they are silent when it comes to areas of their own responsibility. Just recently the European Council failed to show any leadership to cut emissions by harmonizing European air traffic management. Moreover, the constant absence of political support from states on the SES proposals undermines the credibility of the ‘Fit for 55’ proposal and the credibility of Europe’s determination to drive real solutions for sustainability,” said Walsh.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

Hopes Rise for Vaccinated Travelers in Europe

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Hopes Rise for Vaccinated Travelers in Europe - TRAVELINDEXGeneva, Switzerland, June 10, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the relaxation of COVID-19 border measures for vaccinated passengers, and the broader use of affordable antigen testing adopted by Spain and France this week. This is tempered by ongoing disappointment at the failure to implement harmonized measures across Europe and deep frustration at the lack of coordination among governments worldwide for a data-driven risk-managed approach to re-establishing the freedom to travel.
  • As of 7 June, Spain opened its borders to most vaccinated travelers from around the world and allowed EU travelers to enter the country with a negative antigen test. Furthermore, passengers coming from low-risk countries (including the UK) can enter without any restrictions.
  • From 9 June France opened to vaccinated travelers from all but those countries assessed as “high risk”. Vaccinated travelers from “medium-risk” countries will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or PCR test, and unvaccinated people must still self-isolate for seven days.

“It’s encouraging to see more European countries taking steps to reopen borders. They recognize the opportunity created by vaccination and are making travel more affordable with the use of antigen testing. But this approach is not universal across the continent. Many European states have yet to significantly relax borders at all. This fragmentation should be replaced with a unified approach that is consistent with the recommendations of the EU to which they belong. People, businesses and economies would all benefit from greater alignment across Europe in relaxing measures and restoring the freedom to travel,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

A consistent approach across Europe is required if the EU Digital COVID Certificate is to be implemented effectively by 1 July. And around the world, governments need to allow digital certificates to be integrated in passenger applications such as IATA Travel Pass, in order to relieve pressure on airports and at borders from more complex passenger processing as the number of travelers ramps up.

IATA Urges a More Global Approach

These moves by Spain, France and other European states are a step in the right direction, but restoring global connectivity requires far more than regional or individual state initiatives. The G20 endorsed a data-driven approach to managing the risks of COVID-19 while re-opening borders. The upcoming G7 Leaders’ Summit on 11-13 June provides an important opportunity for these governments to use their leadership to kick-start a data-driven coordinated approach to re-establishing global air connectivity.

“Connectivity needs countries at both ends of the journey to be open. Many of the world’s largest air travel markets, such Australia, China, the UK, Japan, and Canada remain essentially closed with no clear plans to guide a reopening. Data should help these and other countries to introduce targeted policies that keep populations safe while moving towards a normality in world with COVID-19 for some time to come. The G7 has an opportunity later this month to set a risk-managed framework for re-establishing the freedom to travel in a way that is both affordable and practical. It’s critical that they take up the challenge,” said Walsh.

First published at TravelCommunication.net

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

Data-Driven Decisions to Manage Risks When Reopening Borders to International Travel

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Geneva, Switzerland, June 4, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged governments to make data-driven decisions to manage the risks of COVID-19 when reopening borders to international travel. Strategies without quarantine measures can enable international travel to restart with a low risk of introduction of COVID-19 to the travel destination.

Source

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

Optimism When Borders Reopen

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Geneva, Switzerland, May 27, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Tourism Economics released a long-term view for post-COVID-19 passenger demand recovery which demonstrates that people remain eager to travel in the short and long-term. To ensure that aviation can sustainably deliver its social and economic benefits as it meets this long-term demand…

Source

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

Accepting Vaccinated Passengers Should be Global Best Practice to Reopen Borders

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Geneva, Switzerland, May 20, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The International Air Transport Association (IATA) applauded the growing number of countries making data and evidence-driven decisions to open their borders to vaccinated travelers. The latest data collected by IATA, including its Timatic service, shows that more than 20 countries have wholly or partially lifted restrictions for vaccinated…

Source

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

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