South Africans received good new yesterday, with Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla announcing that, in less than a week, all vaccinated South Africans will be eligible for a digital vaccination certificate now under development.

“This much-awaited announcement is fantastic news for the South African travel and tourism industry, as it will help facilitate travel for all vaccinated South Africans and help cut through the red tape and admin when travelling,” says Oz Desai, GM of Corporate Traveller.

However, Desai warns that, while these passes give the holder the government-issued right to travel across borders, there are still restrictions in place based on both your country of departure and destination.

In addition, the implementation and issue of Covid passports is a complicated process leaving it open to abuse and misuse – as well as criticism and scepticism from many in the industry.

Desai says it’s clear that a vaccine passport must:

* Meet the benchmarks for Covid immunity;

* Be internationally standardised;

* Be verifiable;

* Be 100% secure in terms of personal data;

* Be affordable;

* Be portable; and

* Meet legal and ethical standards.

Phaahla has assured South Africans that the government has gone through the necessary steps to protect the digital certificate from fraud and that it is in line with the World Health Organisation requirements. “We’re following the standards that have been set globally,” he says.

Desai adds: “Covid passports are likely to be non-negotiable in a post-Covid world. Exactly how the world goes about it, is still up in the air. Regardless of this, the news that South Africans will soon have access to a digital health certificate is good news all around.”