COVID-19 vaccine passports and travel: Don't want to get vaccinated? Don't expect to travel again

Forget first class. Forget business. Forget premium. Forget economy (yes, let's definitely try and forget economy).

There are only two classes of travel that matter now and in the foreseeable future: the jabbed and the jabless.

We can debate the pros and cons of mandatory vaccinations until we're all blue in our mask-concealed faces. But the momentum building around inoculations for almost all forms of travel - one of the truest expressions of freedom - is akin to a runaway bullet train.

Health is and will be the dominant and, for that matter, the most onerous feature in the new era of tourism. The ubiquitous epidemiologist is the new travel agent of sorts.

Digital health passports for travellers have already become not only a matter of "when", or "if" but "why on Earth not?" Those who don't wish to comply will almost certainly find themselves in their own kind of interminable stay home order.

In a rare victory for the embattled cruise industry, a court in the US this week ruled that passengers boarding Norwegian Cruise Line ships in Florida can be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before boarding any of its ships in the original Sunshine State.

The decision came despite a local law passed in Florida that was designed to appease the state's legion of pro-Trump COVID-19 deniers, that sees fines for any businesses that require proof of such vaccinations.

Whether you arrive by sea or air, once you are on the ground in your international destination, such as tourism hotspots like Italy and France, it's unlikely that you'll be able to indulge in essential travel pastimes like visiting museums and restaurants unless you can produce proof of vaccination.

With more customers to be eventually vaccinated than not, what part of the travel industry, whether an outback Australian motel or a Parisian five-star, will ultimately not want to protect its business, its workers and indeed its guests as fully as it possibly can?

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Moreover, the battered global tourism industry will not want to alienate the majority of its prospective clients in order to cater for a sceptical, unco-operative minority.

Airlines are abandoning the pretence of air travel being somehow immune to the contagion (remember all of those miracle air filters last year?) and indicating that in order to fly you'll need proof of having been vaccinated.

But let's not stop at proof of COVID-19 shots in digital health passports but also require travellers to prove they're also up-to-date with other shots such as those for the flu, especially for its northern hemisphere variations. Why not use this moment to put the inevitability of travel bugs as far behind us as possible?

Personally, being fully vaccinated and ready and willing to receive a booster when the time comes, I'd be prepared for digital health passports to be extended to domestic travel - as well as for trips to and from New Zealand when the bubble is re-inflated - if it means more assured movement and a more stable and prosperous tourism industry.

See also: I returned from Australia to Rome, where locals can't believe our restrictions

See also: Qantas confirms rollout of digital 'health pass' for international flights

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