WTTC Proposes Digital Travel Portal

Digital Travel Portal
WTTC, the World Travel & Tourism Council, is proposing a Digital Travel Portal that would, in theory at least, make travel between countries safer and less stressful, as well as reduce airport delays. In a new report, the Council addresses best practices and ways to support governments to streamline travel using the digital portal.

In a new report, the WTTC outlines the Digital Travel Portal, which it believes will be the best way to improve global coordination of international travel and help reduce the red tape and logjams that have made travel more difficult during the COVID pandemic.

Called “Implementing a Digital Travel Portal,” the report, which WTTC created in partnership with The Commons Project, is designed to help governments to work together to institute a global system for verifying a traveler’s health status rather than relying on the patchwork, country-by-country system that brought international travel to a standstill during the worst of COVID and still makes international travel difficult and prone to delays. The new report builds on an initial report, released in December 2021, called “Digital Solutions for Reviving International Travel.”

“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 traveler and chaos for economies with the loss of 62 million jobs worldwide in 2020,” Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, says. The latest Digital Travel Portal report provides guidance on how to create a single digital travel solution that governments can adopt and join up at an international level. 

She adds, “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.

While it may have arisen out of the travel snafus caused by the COVID pandemic, the report outlines ways governments can implement a Digital Travel Portal during potential future health crises that pose widespread economic and travel disruption, says Simpson. “Governments talk about resilience post COVID. By investing in this system now, governments and their economies will be better protected against any future pandemics.”

The Digital Travel Portal is designed to enable travelers to electronically share health-related documents, such as COVID-19 vaccination status, before they embark on their trip. They then would be able to instantly verify their status through the online portal, which would be managed by the destination. Destinations also could use it to combine health data with other standard security and visa requirements.

The latest Digital Travel Portal report’s 12 recommendations address general best practices around compliance with data protection and privacy laws, language capability and 24/7 communication, and legal pathways for dispute resolution. It also provide five recommendations for essential digital portal functionalities, including making things like traveler questionnaires and government integration smooth and efficient.

The latest report, as well as its prequel, are available on the WTTC website.

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