PETALING JAYA: As the Covid-19 vaccine continues to roll out, more countries are slowly opening up their borders to international travellers.
However, each country is in a different phase of the pandemic and has different vaccination rates.
As such, many major airlines including national carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd are driving the push to introduce a digital health pass that will indicate personal health data, especially related to Covid-19.
Malaysia Airlines group chief marketing and customer experience officer Lau Yin May said the platform not only allowed travellers to store their Covid-19 test results and vaccine data, but also ensured minimal contact while travelling.
“When travelling, there are a lot of checkpoints that travellers have to go through from checking in to boarding and also going to the lounge.
“With the pandemic, our passengers’ preferences have changed quite drastically whereby people clearly prefer contactless or minimal contact as much as possible. As such, we have to prepare to make sure that we meet that preference,” she said at a webinar on The Implementation of International Covid Vaccine Passports last Friday.
The webinar was organised by Star Media Group Bhd in partnership with Malaysia Airlines.
It was supported by The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) and The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) to discuss how the digital travel health pass was essential to revive the travel sector as well as new trends post-Covid-19.
The digital travel health pass is integrated with the Malaysia Airlines mobile app and will incorporate some modules of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
With the pass, passengers will have the convenience to make appointments with certified medical partners to carry out a Covid-19 test, as well as include their Covid-19 vaccination certificates on their mobile phones.
As each country is in a different phase of the Covid-19 situation, passengers can use the digital travel health pass to verify their travel eligibility with the airline before their travel so that they are aware and informed of the constantly developing travel policies worldwide.
Commenting on the progress of the Malaysia Airlines mobile app, Lau said the group was planning to add more features including cashless payment, biometric facial recognition and onboard programmes such as an e-reader for the airlines’ magazine.
“We are doing it in a way that will enable self-service and minimal contact for the safety of travellers and also our staff,” she added.
MATTA secretary-general Nigel Wong (pic below) said the digital travel health pass was like an extension of the MySejatera app that could be used to cross borders.
“There are so many SOPs to follow and documents to track, which is difficult to do manually. It is about convenience,” he said.
He lauded Malaysia Airlines’ initiatives to prepare itself before the reopening of borders and said the digital travel health pass could have the short- to medium-term potential to boost the country’s tourism industry.
“Once borders open, there is going to be a fight for market share. Everybody would want to have a piece of that pie.
“It is necessary to create trust and confidence for people to get back to their normal life,” Wong said.
However, he said it was also important for governments in the Asean region to come together to establish a framework and its own vaccine passport to reduce the risks of different processes in every country.
“Many countries are issuing vaccine passports such as the UK, France and China.
“This is to encourage people to get back into normalcy. While each country has its own requirements, Asean countries should come together to come out with a standardised platform to pave the way for passengers to travel faster,” Wong said.