The World Travel & Tourism Council has unveiled a major new report that recommends global guidelines for a Safe & Seamless Traveller Journey related to traveller identity and security in the “new normal”. 

Developed in partnership with Oliver Wyman Consulting Group, and Pangiam as one of the advisors, the report emphasises the need for swift action for a harmonised approach in the implementation of digital traveller identity and biometrics, and the enablement of strong policies through the undertaking of several activities to support the recovery of the ailing Travel & Tourism sector. 

WTTC’s Safe & Seamless Traveller Journey (SSTJ), a core initiative, aims to enable a seamless, safe and secure end-to-end traveller journey, encompassing both air and non-air travel, through an approach for systematic biometric verified identification at each stage of the journey, replacing manual verifications. 

SSTJ will be critical in combating COVID-19 and beyond for crises preparedness, and will further speed the recovery and bring relief and peace of mind to the 330 million people around the world who depend on a thriving Travel & Tourism sector. 

The importance of SSTJ was also recognised by the G20 at the recent Ministerial meeting, with all countries giving it their full support and commitment. 

WTTC had previously recognised the need for more contactless and integrated technology as an emerging trend in the new face of travel. COVID-19 has become a catalyst for touchless technologies, which travellers will now expect in order to minimise their physical contact with people and surfaces. 

According to a recent survey by Amadeus, technology and innovation will be key in building traveller confidence and industry recovery. This is illustrated as over four in five (84%) travellers say technology would increase their confidence to travel in the next 12 months.

Furthermore, in a recent WTTC consumer survey, eight out of 10 Americans boarding domestic or international flights said they would be willing to submit biometric data to enhance their travel experience.

Building on consultations with more than 350 stakeholders since 2018, WTTC has developed a clear vision for a seamless and secure end to-end journey and has defined a roadmap to drive this initiative forward. Such an initiative requires the public and private sectors to join forces to drive the changes WTTC envisions, build momentum, and encourage adherence to global standards that sustain a supportive policy framework.

The report emphasises the need for international coordination to remove travel barriers and build traveller confidence, both of which are critical to the sector’s survival. 

To achieve recovery, it is, says the WTTC, essential to provide certainty for travellers regarding travel restrictions and policies to facilitate domestic and international travel. 

WTTC Members, other private sector leaders and international organisations identified the following private sector actions:

  • Adopting global data standards, leveraging existing standards, to ensure interoperability across all sectors, including governments
  • Cross sector collaboration (e.g. airlines, hotels, rail, cruise, working together)
  • Implement standardised global health and safety protocols across all industries and geographies to facilitate a consistent and safe travel experience
  • Develop and adopt innovative digital technologies that enable seamless travel, better manage visitor flows, and improve the traveller experience while making the traveller journey safer.

Public-private collaboration is essential to the success of SSTJ. WTTC developed critical steps governments must take to strengthening international collaboration through facilitation and leadership. Governments, through the creation of task forces, should continue investing in biometrics to ensure they are prepared for future crisis. Becoming more resilient will allow the sector and countries respond better to future risks or shocks.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “This important initiative enables mobility and increases safety and security, while always putting the passenger at the very centre. WTTC congratulates ICAO for endorsing the specifications of the Digital Travel Credential (DTC) Type 1, bringing digital identity-based travel one step closer to reality. There is no doubt that international coordination is necessary, which is why our guidelines aim to bring clarity to a recovery process that has been disjointed and confused. We hope that this, along with our many other guidelines for Safe Travels, will help usher in further consumer confidence.”

Sean Donohue, CEO Dallas Fort Worth International Airport said: “DFW Airport is committed to ensuring it is ‘Clean. Safe. Ready.’ for everyone coming to our facilities. Providing that seamless, enhanced experience means innovative efforts to expand the use of biometric technology, smart restrooms that provide contactless service and heightened sanitisation, and going the extra mile to become the first airport in the world to earn Star accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC). Our efforts align with the WTTC’s coordinated efforts and commitment to a seamless, safe and secure end-to-end journey for everyone.”

Dr. Dee K. Waddell, IBM Global Managing Director Travel & Transportation said: “Digital travel credentials such as identity, biometrics, and health certifications are a critical part of transforming and emerging even stronger from the devastating impacts from the pandemic.  Travel & Tourism is a resilient sector and ensuring a rapid return to growth will be enabled by next-generation technologies.”

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman MSC Cruises said: “Leveraging technology to improve the movement of guests through the various stages of travel will make our industry more efficient, more secure, and more adaptable.  Use of this type of technology will enhance the guest experience at MSC Cruises and enhance our operations.  Where both things can be done simultaneously, that is a winning combination.  We appreciate that WTTC has undertaken this project for the collective benefit of the travel community.”

Kim Day, CEO Denver International Airport said: “Limiting contact through technology and other changes to allow for a more efficient travel experience are more critical than ever. This report offers several recommendations for a safer, seamless journey. Biometric technology and digital identity solutions are a key part of the travel industry’s recovery and future.”

Scot Hornick, Oliver Wyman Partner Transportation and Travel said: “Allowing a traveller to use their biometrics and digital identity across all travel providers, regardless of sector, will reduce many common friction points. For travel providers, the Safe and Seamless Traveller Journey will enable increases in efficiency and allow for a greater personalised customer experience. Most importantly, the Safe and Seamless Traveller Journey creates a safer and healthier journey for all travellers and employees of the Travel and Tourism Industry.”

Luis Maroto, President & CEO Amadeus IT Group said: “Multilateral collaboration is required to build a framework for contactless travel that considers the entire traveler journey from door to door making it safe and secure though advanced touchless technology. This SSTJ initiative helps to develop clear testing and tracing practices while leveraging contactless technologies enabling a touchless environment and faster processing, which are key in restarting travel safely.”

Barbara Dalibard, CEO SITA, said: “The benefits of speed, safety and improved security are significant. With the additional benefit of limiting touch and maintaining distance, these digital identity solutions take on new relevance in the COVID era. As the air transport and hospitality industry, we now can make tremendous strides in implementing these solutions that have long been accepted by other industries such as the finance sector.” 

As one of the fastest-growing sectors in 2019, accounting for one in four new jobs created worldwide over the last five years, the slowdown of Travel & Tourism will have devastating ripple effects beyond the sector itself, and WTTC’s latest figures suggest that up to 174 million jobs could be lost in Travel & tourism by the end of 2020. 

In effect, the benefits of Travel & Tourism spread far beyond its direct impacts in terms of GDP and employment, with indirect benefits throughout the supply chain and interlinkages to other sectors, such as agriculture, retail, arts, and construction, among others. 

Unlike many other sectors, Travel & Tourism is highly inclusive, employing and offering opportunities to people from all walks of life, including minorities, youth, and women. 

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