February 29, 2024

EU applauded for consistent approach to travel

The GBTA has welcomed the agreement between the EU Council and EU Parliament to introduce digital Covid certificates to help facilitate free movement in Europe from July 1.

EU digital Covid certificates will be free and will come in the form of a QR code in paper or digital format.

They will show that travellers have been vaccinated, have had a PCR test taken within 72 hours, an antigen test taken within 24 hours, or a test proving the presence of antibodies taken within six months.

However the certificate will not be a precondition to exercise the right to free movement and will not be considered a travel document.

EU countries have agreed to recognise vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, although EU countries can also decide to accept other jabs.

Under the agreement, EU countries are unable to impose additional restrictions on the holders of a certificate unless they are necessary to protect public health, but governments can decide whether travellers with a certificate are still required to quarantine or get tested.

The EU Commission said it would use €100 million from the Emergency Support Instrument to procure tests, with an additional €100 million available if required.

The agreement fell short of promising free testing, which had been called for by MEPs.

“GBTA welcomes the news that business travellers will benefit from a unified return to travel following the introduction of an EU wide recognised digital Covid certificate. The consistent approach across the EU is vital to restore traveller confidence and re-open business travel across multiple markets,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO GBTA.

The EU agreement came as the latest poll of GBTA members found government restrictions remain the greatest barrier to travel (55%), followed by company policies restricting travel (23%) and cost savings (11%). Only 7% cited employees’ unwillingness to travel.

Respondents in the UK (80%) and Europe (70%) were more likely to cite government policies as a barrier those those in the US (44%).

The poll found 78% of GBTA members believe digital health verification by governments would be ‘effective’ in restarting corporate travel. Respondents from the UK (90%), Canada (89%) and Europe (86%) are more likely than respondents from the US (73%) to favour certification.

Almost half (46%) expected their company to resume non-essential travel for all employees regardless of whether they’ve had their vaccination. However, 38% were unsure of their company policy on vaccination and the resumption of business travel.

One in six (16%) said their company would allow only fully-vaccinated employees to resume non-essential trips.

Asked about the resumption of international travel, 13% said their company had plans to start travelling overseas again in the next one to three months, 57% were considering a resumption but had no definite plans, 22% had no plans and 8% were unsure.

The poll also highlighted concerns about re-staffing when business travel resumes.