At the start of the pandemic in 2020, Italy suffered badly from the spread of the coronavirus. It has become one of the most affected countries and has had many victims who have fallen due to the virus.
But it is interesting to note that during the summer of this year, one of Italy’s most important sources of income, tourism, rebounded to better levels not only in 2020 but also in 2019.
Like Italy, Australia’s GDP also relies significantly on tourism. Can Italy’s Green Pass be the model Australia needs to put its tourism sector on the road to recovery?
- Domestic tourism in Italy rebounds with the introduction of the Green Pass: Italian industry body
- Public transport, airports, hotels, restaurants, museums in Italy are only accessible via the Green Pass
- Australia’s international COVID passport is being developed to meet international travel standards
According to data from the Confederazione Nazionale dell’Artigianato (CNA), Italy’s trade association for small and medium-sized enterprises, more than 23 million domestic tourists booked hotel rooms and vacation rentals in the country in July and August.
This number is a significant improvement not only from 2020 (17 million), but also from 2019 (18 million).
Italy’s Green Pass is believed to have helped its people regain the confidence to travel and, by extension, revive the tourism industry, both of which have been seriously hit hard by the pandemic.
What is the Green Pass?
The Italian Green Pass is a digital document issued by their Ministry of Health which can be obtained after receiving two doses of vaccine or having proof of recovery from COVID-19. Unvaccinated people can also get it if they test negative for COVID-19. In this case, it is only valid for 48 hours. The pass is recognized throughout the European Union.
Australians planning to travel to Italy will also need it, as it is the only way to access public transport and airports, hotels, restaurants, museums and many other indoor activities.
On August 4, Italian authorities announced that any citizen who wants the Green Pass must present proof of their vaccination including the batch number of the vaccine.
This is the catch for Australians planning to travel to Italy, as vaccine lot numbers are not currently made available to people getting vaccinated in Australia.
Services Australia, which administers Medicare, has confirmed to SBS Italian that the vaccination history statement and current COVID-19 digital certificate can be accessed via my.gov.au and the Medicare Express Plus app do not include vaccination lot numbers because they are not needed for household purposes.
This missing data created problems for some Australians who intended to travel to Italy for humanitarian reasons.
Vaccine Lot Number: The Holy Grail?
Massimo, an Italian-Australian currently in Italy for personal reasons, said he could not access the Green Pass because he did not have the batch number of his vaccine doses.
“Despite inquiries to my GP, Medicare, Australian Health Service and Sydney Olympic Park Vaccination Centre, my lot number still cannot be found,” Massimo told SBS Italian.
However, Barbara Amalberti was luckier.
After a long process, she was able to obtain the batch number of the first dose of the vaccine administered to her daughter Sofia, who is currently in Italy awaiting the second vaccine.
Services Australia has informed SBS Italian that the Australian government is developing an international vaccination certificate that will meet agreed international travel standards, noting that the current certificate has been developed for domestic use only.
Another member of the Italian community, Alessandro Borina, found an article on Italian SBS useful.
“I found out through an article on SBS Italian that I will need the batch number once I get to Italy. I am flying there because my mother is very ill and I am making arrangements for my business here before my flight,” says Borina.
“The last thing I would have thought would be wasting time looking for a batch number,” he adds.
After a week of phone calls and emails to health authorities, Mr Borina was about to give up when he finally got the lot through a GP.
How to get your batch number?
According to Services Australia:
- If you have not yet been vaccinated, you can ask your vaccine supplier for the lot number of your COVID-19 vaccine when you get vaccinated.
- If you have already been vaccinated, Services Australia encourages you to contact your vaccine supplier first.
- If your vaccine supplier cannot provide this information, you can call the Australian Immunization Registry (AIR) on 1800 653 809.
Speaking to SBS Italian, Lorena Bassolino said: “My boyfriend and I went to Sydney Olympic Park to get the jab and asked for the lot number. Andrea [boyfriend] was given the number by a doctor while I was turned down. It took me time and effort to convince the administrative staff to print it for me as well”.
“It would be so much easier for everyone if the health authorities were informed that we need this batch number”, suggests Nadia Fronteddu.
“We should have the batch number with the official vaccination documents, what I have now is just a loose piece of paper,” she adds.
Can the Green Pass be a model for reviving Australian tourism?
“People will feel safer when traveling or visiting Australia if something like the Italian Green Pass is in place here,” Ms Bassolino suggests.
“Allowing people to prove their vaccination status could be essential for overseas travel and could help avoid quarantine in hotels,” she adds.
The introduction of the vaccination passport will allow Australians to prove their vaccination status overseas once international travel resumes.
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan recently said the final details of the vaccine passport were being worked out.
“It would mean that I can finally see my family after 18 months, it’s like a dream come true”, comments Nadia Fronteddu.