G7 transport ministers hold talks on restarting international travel

UK's Grant Shapps hosts discussion on universal travel certificates

FILE PHOTO: People queue to enter terminal 2, as tighter rules for international travellers start, at Heathrow Airport, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, London, Britain, January 18, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

G7 transport ministers held talks on Wednesday about how to resume international travel as their battered economies look to revive their tourist industries this summer.

In a virtual meeting hosted by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the ministers discussed sharing scientific data and setting up universally recognised travel certificates that will allow international travel to resume.

The EU is already working on a digital pass that will allow people to show they have been vaccinated, tested negative for Covid-19 or recently recovered from the virus.

Meanwhile, Italy says it will move to open up tourism from mid-May without waiting for the EU's scheme.

International tourist arrivals dropped by 73 per cent around the world in 2020 and 62 million jobs in the industry were lost as a result of the pandemic, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The UK is among the countries looking to restart travel after the industry required £7 billion ($9.7bn) in public money to withstand the pandemic.

All eyes are on Mr Shapps as Britons hoping for a holiday wait to see which countries will be on Britain's "green list" when international travel resumes.

A report by Mr Shapps’s Global Travel Taskforce last month said the UK could lift its foreign holiday ban on May 17 subject to a “traffic light” system which has yet to be fully unveiled.

Mr Shapps said he shared the task force’s findings with his fellow transport ministers from the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Commission.

“If we’re to safely and sustainably restart international travel on a global scale, we need a robust, accessible and co-ordinated approach,” Mr Shapps said.

“That’s why I’ve brought together my G7 counterparts to identify shared goals, address challenges we may face and progress work on a co-ordinated approach that will allow us to build back better as we look to the future.”

Mr Shapps’s French counterpart, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, said G7 ministers were working together on how to resume travel.

“The whole world wants to travel again,” he said.

Governments prepare to lift travel bans to restart tourism

The UK government is continuing to work on how British holidaymakers will be able to prove their Covid-19 status when they travel abroad.

Hopes that Britons will be able to travel to Europe increased on Monday after the EU recommended easing restrictions in favour of countries with a "good epidemiological situation".

The EU unveiled details in March of a health pass that will allow people to prove that they have either been fully vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from Covid-19 in the previous 180 days.

EU members will be required to accept vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, such as the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Countries may also choose to accept other vaccines not approved by EU regulators, such as Russia's Sputnik V.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Tuesday that Italy would move ahead of the EU in introducing its own travel pass from mid-May.

"Let us not wait until mid-June for the EU pass," Mr Draghi said. "In mid-May tourists can have the Italian pass ... so the time has come to book your holidays in Italy."

He said: "The world longs to travel here. The pandemic has forced us to close down temporarily. But Italy is ready to welcome back the world."

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