Expected Changes in Travelling After Covid-19

The Corona virus has upended travel industry and brought the world to a standstill. For the first time, almost 90% of the world’s population now forced to live in countries with travel restrictions. Travel companies, the tourism sector and Airlines companies as a whole are among the most affected businesses. According to a report approx. 25 million aviation jobs and 100 million travel and tourism jobs are going to effect. And, between five and seven years’ value of industry growth will possibly be lost.

Touch less Travel

From airport curb side to hotel check-in, the most instant and perhaps most noticeable change will be touch less travel. Even with strict cleaning protocols in place, touching surfaces through check- and exchanging travel documents, border control, security, and boarding will still going to pose a significant risk of infection for both travellers and workers.

Automation processes such as biometrics are already a widely accepted solution for identity verification. The use will become more extensive as physical fingerprint and hand scanners are phased out. More touch less options will come; including contactless fingerprint, iris and face recognition. Additionally, technology for touch less data-entry such as touch less document scanning, gesture control, and voice commands are already being tested. But it is necessary to ensure, these technologies are comprehensive and to exclude the risk of potential biases.

Digital Health Passports

After the pandemic, health could be considered in every aspect of travel. According to a repost by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), measures such as screening, visible sanitizing and face covers all increase passengers’ approaches of safety when thinking about travelling after COVID-19.

With the passenger’s permission, travel companies and airlines could use personal data for instance their age, travel history, and underlying health conditions to compile an individual risk profile. Up to the present time, there are no norms on the acceptable level of risk for re-opening borders or allowing individuals to travel. Until a vaccine or antidote is developed, the focus is shifting to evaluating the risk of individual passengers.

New technologies for health-screening and tracking tools are offering hope of a return to relaxed and confident travel. However, there is a concern of privacy and data issues to the forefront of the discussion. Any solution needs to be transparent and secure so travellers can embrace it. Data should be shared on a ‘need to know’ and ‘authorized to know’ basis, with given consent and in line with applicable regulations.

The Digital Traveller

Many organisations have already advanced their digital journey. This is happening in order to enable the new usual, to help business with changed customer behaviour and rebuild trust. Integrated digital identity solutions are key to initializing touch less travel. These solutions also allow businesses to draw on manifold data points to efficiently assess a person’s health risk profile, and enabling them to manage risks in real time.

Traveller Digital Identity is an initiative of The World Economic Forum. It brings together governments, individuals from all over the world, authorities, nations and the travel industry to enable safe and seamless journeys. All partners from organization can access verifiable claims of a traveller’s identity data to advance passenger processing and reduce risk. Travellers can also manage their own profile, collect digital ‘confirmations’ of their identity data and decide over which information to share.

Collaboration is the Key

In this time of crisis, governments, nations and industry have a chance to redefine travel and build a more agile, sustainable, and resilient industry. And, this will not be something which will going to possible without collaboration.

In the near term, investors will need to cooperate with the use of digital technologies. Next, they will need to develop a precise policy and legal system around the deployment of digital technologies that balance the protection of public health as well as civil liberties. The third challenge is to confirm that different digital identity solutions can operate together. The role of organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), WHO, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will be critical to align aviation priorities, health and, guidelines & policies.

Eventually, the pandemic is expectedly to speed up two trends which have been gathering steam for some time. First is seamless travel, where one’s face and body is passport. The second one is the idea of a decentralized identity. It means the person is in possession of and controls identity attributes, such as place of birth and date, and physical characteristics but also health information, travel history and other data. These trends will also make travel experience more enjoyable, efficient and safe.