The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has published a new report on best practices and support for governments for the introduction of a common ‘Digital Travel Portal’, to allow safe, stress-free travel, that would reduce delays at airports.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a lack of global coordination as governments introduced a constant patchwork of digital and paper requirements.
WTTC is calling for alignment to build resilience and ensure there is a clear global system focused on an individual’s health status that does not bring international travel to a standstill, which throughout the pandemic caused serious economic damage.
‘Implementing a Digital Travel Portal’, created by WTTC and The Commons Project Foundation, is aimed at governments and builds on the previously released ‘Digital Solutions for Reviving International Travel’ report published in December 21’.
The report gives a blueprint to governments on how to implement a Digital Travel Portal not only during COVID, but during any future health crises that threaten economies and global Travel & Tourism, by ensuring health checks are based on the individual, prior to travelling, to achieve a seamless journey.
The portal would enable travellers to electronically share, for instance, their digital COVID vaccination status, or any other required documentation, before they begin their journey.
Once booked, travellers would simply visit the online portal managed by the destination, where their documentation would be uploaded, verifying in seconds their status.
The data can also be combined with other standard security and visa requirements.
The previous report provided eight recommendations and addressed the global challenge posed by ever-changing policies and processes, which are not only complex and unsustainable, but also further hinder the recovery of an already struggling sector.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said:
“Over the past two years, governments reached for their own solutions to halt the pandemic by restricting travel, but the result was chaos. Chaos for the confused traveller and chaos for economies with the loss of 62 million jobs worldwide in 2020.
“We publish a report that provides guidance on how to create a single digital travel solution that governments can adopt and join up at an international level.
“If we ever face another pandemic, we must do a better job. People should be allowed to travel based on their individual health status by using a one-stop government digital platform before they start their journey.
“Governments talk about resilience post COVID. By investing in this system now, governments and their economies will be better protected against any future pandemics.”
Zhenya Lindgardt, CEO of The Commons Project Foundation, said:
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, now is the time for governments to ensure preparedness for whatever may come next.
“The past two years have shown us that health will likely remain a core component of border crossing moving forward, and the implementation of digital portals for health status verification is a critical step toward building more resilience in the face of public health crises.
“The Commons Project is proud to support WTTC in its effort to help countries lay this foundation for resuming safe travel and keeping borders open.”
The report offers 12 recommendations as general best practice principles to be applied to the whole Digital Travel Portal: privacy by design and default, compliance with data protection and privacy laws, language capability, 24×7 communication, and legal path in case of disputes, amongst others.
The report also provides five recommendations related to specific features and functionalities considered to be critical for an effective portal, providing health security and an efficient experience, such as traveller questionnaire, and government integration, amongst others.
For countries still requiring COVID status checks of travellers, this report (along with the December report) provides best practice advice for collecting and analysing traveller health status information pre-travel and digitally connecting the output with travel operators, reducing traveller anxiety and burden at airports
For countries that have removed COVID status checks, this report also provides a resilience and preparedness tool for the next pandemic, or other major incident, with best practice advice on how to efficiently collect and process digital health traveller information before their journey.
Lastly, Digital Travel Portals could also be integrated with other government services, such as visa application processes, to provide an efficient digital one-stop-shop for governments and travellers.