At the moment, the travel industry has ground to a halt. Rumours swirl about the future of travel planning, and both the government and consumers are desperate to ensure that when travel does resume, it does so safely.
Covid was a black swan moment of momentous change for many industries, and the travel sector is no exception. The future presents a golden opportunity for the public and private sector to work together to streamline the adoption of digital identity within the travel industry, and pave the way for the next generation of travellers.
A touch-free experience
In order to keep virus transmission at a minimum, the travel industry has already begun to roll out touchless experiences at all journey touch points.
But the main “touch-free” experiences is about how we prove our identity throughout our journey. Such as our identity, our health status and previous travel history. These are usually proven through a series of documents, which for a busy traveller could go through hundreds of pairs of hands a year. In a digital future, travellers could have one digital form of documentation that comprises an identity, visas, vaccinations and any other data required for seamless travel.
How Covid is impacting this transformation
There is one thing that is on everyone’s minds... the Covid passport, which has been discussed by both the UK government and businesses. There are currently trials happening to test what this might look like, but as summer looms, it’s still all hypothetical.
There is confusion about what this means in the immediate future for those who are vaccinated, and for those who are not.
What the Covid passport could, and should, be is a simple biometric digital document that allows customers to store all of their health, travel and identity data in one safe place. It would be an easy way to keep up to date with who’s been vaccinated, and a safe way to track those entering the country. Work has already begun on one in Denmark, ahead of the world opening up again this summer.
What’s the problem?
It requires collaboration. There’s a lot of misinformation and genuine fear clouding the discussion about Covid passports, taking it from a discussion about post-pandemic travel to a global human rights issue.
Governments, the technology sector and the travel industry have got to work together if this is to get off the ground in the UK. It requires robust legislation and standards, and a cross-border effort to ensure that the data shared across state lines is kept safe and secure.
At present, the government cannot even decide whether to use the terminology “Covid Passports” out of fear of pushback, leaving both businesses and consumers floundering in the chaos.
As the public gets vaccinated, they are faced with confusion and misinformation about the future of travel in the UK and beyond.
What’s needed to get us off the ground?
Everyone involved needs to supply a high-level digital framework that consumers can trust. Only then will we be able to provide the digital solutions we require going forwards.
In the midst of the chaos and confusion, the government needs to be a leading voice and start to properly invest in a digital identity network that can properly support our future of post-pandemic travel.
This is the travel industry’s black swan moment… If we get this right, we are opening up a new age of travel for the public and for businesses. Get it wrong, and we’re showing the public that a new way of travelling was in our grasp, we just let it slip.
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