Digital vaccine passports ‘inevitable’ but may be just the beginning

Like it or not, a COVID passport seems inevitable if people want to return to international travel, particularly businesses, Flight Centre’s general manager for corporate brands in Australia James Kavanagh said.

Aug 06, 2021, updated Aug 06, 2021

But a digital style passport of the future was likely to have more than COVID vaccine information.

And if the states continued to set individual rules around border closures it was likely to be needed for domestic travel.

“Over the last 12 months there has been a race from a plethora of companies trying to get something like this up and running,’’ Kavanagh told InQueensland.

“The companies looking to create these technology pieces are not just looking for the here and now they are looking for the next 10, 15 and 20 years.

“They are looking at a range of different things that would be needed for different countries so for this one we are looking at your COVID information but if you look at other countries you might travel to they will have certain needs for entry to travel there so it will ultimately extend beyond a COVID vaccination.’’

The Federal Government has already backed the idea of a QR-code vaccine certificate for international travel, but there was disagreement over whether that would extend to domestic travel.

“I think it will be the way of the future and coming out of the pandemic to actually have digital passports in place,’’ Kavanagh said.

“We have a lot of clients who would already have to prove this if they were travelling into Africa. We know from customers who want to travel that they are generally quite supportive of providing this information so long as it’s done in safe and a secure way.’’

He said whether it would be needed for domestic travel was likely to depend on whether the states continued to have their own rules.

“A lot will depend on state Government approaches in operating their state’s like separate countries and controlling the borders the way they do,’’ Kavanagh said.

“If we can come to a national standard to travelling freely around Australia then you have to question the need for it but if we are going to continue these border rules that are different across various states then the passport will enable travel a lot more efficiently and freely.’’

He said COVID was unlikely to be the only reason for a digital vaccine passport.

“No one predicted this would happen so you could not have a global recovery plan in place, but going into the future you will find there are innovative ways to deal with these events so that when they happen we will have a more systemised to be able to respond,’’ he said.

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