A simplified and interoperable digital solution is vital to fully achieve the recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, as they identified digital solutions for governments across the globe to significantly restore international mobility.
The inaugural report, titled “Digital Solutions for Reviving International Travel,” calls on governments to adopt a more internationally coordinated response to COVID-19 for the travel and tourism sector and to implement digital solutions to facilitate the resumption of safe travel.
Following World Health Organization guidelines, the WTTC urges governments to accept the four most widely used digital COVID vaccination certificates – EU Digital COVID Certificate, ICAO Visible Digital Seal, DIVOC and SMART Health Cards – as proof of COVID-19 status.
By doing so, travelers, whether fully vaccinated or testing negative, would have a globally recognized digital COVID certificate that would allow them to travel freely and safely.
To accommodate digital COVID certificates, the WTTC encourages governments to activate a digital travel portal that lets travelers electronically upload their digital COVID vaccination or test certificates with their destination before traveling. The upload process helps avoid confusion and long lines related to paperwork.
Once travelers have submitted their COVID status, governments should issue a travel authorization certificate to the traveler with a machine-readable QR code that follows the same security principles as the COVID-19 status certificates.
The QR codes allow travelers to maintain their own record of authority to travel and can be used by travel operators to confirm a traveler’s eligibility to travel.
“It is governments’ responsibility to ensure there is a safe, secure, simple and digital system in place to restore international mobility. WTTC is recommending a single global portal that recognizes the main digital passes currently in use worldwide and acts as a one stop shop for travelers and governments,” says WTTC president and CEO Julia Simpson.
“We can use the pandemic to leapfrog technologies and allow contactless travel with embedded data on vaccination and testing status.”
According to WTTC research, more than 60 million travel industry jobs were lost in 2020, and the sector’s contribution to the global GDP fell by $4.5 trillion.