UNWTO, IATA Launch Destination Tracker To Restore Confidence In Travel

by Olamilekan Okeowo

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have announced the launch of a Destination Tracker in preparation for the restart of international travel.

The UNWTO-IATA Destination Tracker is a new free online tool for governments to provide information on COVID-19 requirements for travel and the measures in place at the destination.

According to UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, the tool is the result of both organizations‘ joint efforts to boost confidence and accelerate recovery of the tourism sector when borders reopen.

“UNWTO is pleased to reinforce its partnership with IATA, a UNWTO Affiliate Member, to provide this important tool. Travelers and companies will be able to check requirements in place for air travel, as well as what measures will be in place at the visited destination. We trust this tool is also critical for governments to track existing travel restrictions and support the safe restart of our sector” he said.

On his part, Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General said “It has been more than a year since the freedom to travel was lost as COVID-19 measures saw borders close. When governments have the confidence to re-open borders people will be eager to travel. And they will need accurate information to guide them. With the support of national tourism organizations, the UNWTO-IATA Destination Tracker will help travelers and travel companies obtain the latest information for travel planning,” he added.

The UNWTO-IATA Destination Tracker builds on the existing partnership between the two parties. In October 2020, UNWTO and IATA signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to restore confidence in international air travel.

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The agreement will also see the two agencies partner to foster innovation to drive the restart of tourism, promote greater public-private collaboration in the field of aviation and the tourism sector in general, and advance progress already made towards achieving greater sustainability and resilience.

The tool is available through the websites of both organizations and will provide information on COVID-19 Indicators including infection rates, positivity rates, and vaccination roll out by destination/country.

Air Travel Regulations, including test and quarantine requirements, provided by IATA’s Timatic solution.

Destination Measures, including general health and safety requirements such as the use of masks, transit through a country, curfew, or regulations related to restaurants and attractions, provided by national tourism organizations.  

The Destination Tracker will fulfill a key need by providing clarity on COVID-19 measures affecting tourism. The situation for travelers is complex with UNWTO data showing that one in three destinations remains closed to tourists. Moreover, restrictions and in-country measures are continuously being revised.

A joint statement from UNWTO and IATA expressed confidence that this tool will be critical for governments to track existing travel restrictions and support the safe restart of our sector

“Governments can use the Destination Tracker to post COVID-19 travel information so that potential travelers will know what to expect at their destination. When fully populated with updated destination information, travel stakeholders including Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) and travel agencies, will be able to obtain the latest destination information, enabling travelers to make informed decisions when borders reopen and travel resumes.

The development of the Tracker framework is now complete. Up-to-date information on COVID-19 indicators and air travel regulations is available and systematically updated. Destination information is being progressively uploaded, expanded, and updated with official sources as the COVID-19 situation evolves” the statement stated.

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