COVID-19 has brought the world to a near standstill. According to an estimate by the International Labour Organization, the virus is estimated to have cost 400 million jobs in the second quarter of 2020, or a 14% drop in global working hours. Nearly all major economies in the world have gone into recession. Airlines and travel-dependent businesses like tourism are among the worst affected. The IATA projects that air passenger traffic won’t return to pre-pandemic levels before 2024. The UN World Tourism Organisation estimates that a further 120 million jobs are at risk, with the economic damage likely to exceed $1 trillion. There are also other less prominent, yet serious, economic impacts. For example, in Australia, education is the third largest export product. It’s been hit dramatically, with students from key markets like China unable to travel and take up the places that have previously been a rich source of revenue. Travel matters to economies globally. 

Trust the key to moving on 

So, what is required to get travel back to where it was nine months ago? COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and testing will all be vital, of course. But there’s another critical ingredient in the recovery mix: trust. Travellers are only going to retake their seats in aircraft if they feel confident that the stranger sitting next to them has been through a health screening process that they can trust.  In much the same way, any destination country must trust that they can admit that person without risking the spread of infection. From the point of departure to the point of entry, travel has to be trusted.  

Borders at the centre 

How can border agencies help achieve that? A trusted model must be built on a system of health certifications. This is nothing new. Travellers to many countries have long had to carry certification that they are free from or vaccinated against specific diseases. The difference today is that it’s now possible to achieve that certification digitally, making the whole process seamless, secure and very importantly in this context, virtually touchless.   

What would that look like? It could be as simple for the end user as an app that combines identify information along with visas and health certificates. However, that simplicity on the surface masks considerable complexity beneath. There is no point in having health certifications if they are not verifiably linked to the real person for whom they have been issued. And that all starts with digital identity.  

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The difference today is that it’s now possible to achieve that certification digitally, making the whole process seamless, secure and very importantly in this context, virtually touchless.   

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Digital ID can restore trusted travel… and more 

Digital identity was already increasingly important for navigating and managing a world on the move. To rebuild trust and restart travel, digital identity will be a cornerstone of developments from here. And it’s not just at the border where being able to prove you are who you say you are matters. Digital identity is essential for a whole range of transactions, from banking to communications. The border agency might start the identity of someone coming into a country, but it doesn’t end there.  The traveller will be able to transact with ease in that country thanks to their digital identity.  

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World ID Travel   

Getting all this right is essential to help people feel comfortable and safe. It’s only then that we will see travel numbers picking up again. Accenture has technology that can help’.  World ID Travel enables citizens to share their health attestations and other credentials securely with trusted organisations before they travel. It uses biometrics technology to enable a contactless travel experience. This helps minimise the risks of infection so passenger flows can be made as safe as possible, putting the traveller in charge, enabling them to control their health records and hold their key data securely, disclosing only what they need to take their journey.  

We all want to travel again. To reopen the economy, to see our friends and families overseas, to holiday and experience new adventures. And with a high level of trust that this can be done safely. I am keen to restart, are you? 

Please get in touch and let me know your thoughts on how we can create the trust that will help get travel restarted. 

The views and opinions expressed in this document are meant to stimulate thought and discussion. As each business has unique requirements and objectives, these ideas should not be viewed as professional advice with respect to the business.
Copyright © 2020 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture and its logo are trademarks of Accenture. 


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Gerco Landman

Senior Manager – Consulting, Public Service, Australia & New Zealand

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