The European Commission recently proposed Digital Green Certificates showing that a person has been vaccinated, received a negative Covid-19 test result or recovered from infection. The certificates would allow for free movement for EU citizens within the EU.
There are also lots of new health apps such as Travel Pass, Clear's Health Pass and CommonPass. Some airlines such as Emirates are already testing these health apps.
How this baffling array of digital certifications will work across borders is still being figured out but most people in the know agree that vaccination should not be a requirement to travel in part because people in many areas of the world are still a long way from being vaccinated.
Widespread testing remains key, said Paul Charles, founder and CEO of London-based travel consultancy The PC Agency.
"Testing is the magic wand, as well as the vaccine. And only by testing travelers as much as possible can you reduce the impact of infections across borders,"
But certificates for vaccinations and test results are likely to be carried by many travelers in the near future. Airports are now deploying virus sniffing dogs to add to the usual drug sniffing canines.
Technology such as mobile hotel check-in has become the norm du jour during this touch and contact averse time, and it won't be going away anytime soon.
Using your phone as a key, texting the front desk, texting room service -- all of this was sort of starting to happen but is now going to be standard.
Even before the pandemic, cruise lines were adding tools such as facial recognition to help with the boarding process and touchless, contactless purchasing and entry to cabins. Part of Norwegian's return to sailing plan includes a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for both guests and crew aboard Norwegian's three brands: Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas. The ships will also initially operate at a reduced capacity, and will implement several other health protocols to create a "safe, 'bubble-like' environment."
It means more seamless embarkation and disembarkation as well as a much easier way to perform contact tracing.
It's not just technology that has become touchless, I don't think the buffet as we knew it pre-Covid is going to come back.
Frank Del Rio, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings' president and CEO, says cruise ships will "become the safest place on earth" as cruise like Norwegian continue to ramp up health protocols
More private stays...
Holiday rentals available through Airbnb and similar sites have been very popular during the pandemic with guests craving space and control.
Apparently it turns out that people prefer having their own front door, no lobby, no elevator and a place that they could disinfect twice a day, if they want to.
Hotel demand and occupancy will go up again as people get more comfortable with hotels.
Rates dropped by 20% in 2020, and they're only expected to rise by 4% this year.
Christopher Anderson, a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, said "alternative lodging will continue to be a "bright spot" in the lodging space and I expect even in a fully vaccinated world people are going to look for newer and different types of experiences,"
More flexibility, for now
Travel policies have become more flexible and that may outlast the pandemic, some experts say.
One of the great things that has emerged is tour operators and airlines becoming more flexible, they've obviously been forced to be more flexible, if they want to keep their customers in the future, but it's definitely set a trend for greater flexibility. The jury's out on whether or when fees for changing flights will be back.
"Change fees will be back eventually, there is too much money in fees and also an enormous amount of value in maintaining predictable demand. If people can change whenever they want it decreases the airlines' ability to operate efficiently." says Jordan Staab, president of SmarterTravel Media
Airlines will be looking to recoup the huge losses prompted by the pandemic, including our own Ryanair and other budget airlines. Fares are rising, often by 20-30%, and because there's so much pent-up demand, consumers are seemingly happy to pay it. Airlines won't be immediately returning 100% of their pre-pandemic routes, even as demand grows, meaning demand might outweigh supply, and airlines can raise rates and still fill seats.
Whats obvious is that people want to be physically together.