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- Technology can make borders digital, rather than physical -- but still secure – a new study asserts
- With right measures, global travel sector can sustain growth rate, introducing 86 million new jobs by 2026
- Read the full study, Digital Borders: Enabling a secure, seamless and personalized journey here
New York, USA, 17 February 2017 – A fundamental rethink of the way travellers move across borders will be needed if a balance is to be struck between satisfying ballooning demand for international travel with the need to improve the integrity of border security. That is the conclusion of a new study, Digital Borders: Enabling a secure, seamless and personalized journey, published today by the World Economic Forum.
With the number of international travellers expected to rise 46% to 1.8 billion per year by 2030, and the safety of national borders considered by governments to be of primary importance, the report finds that a combination of innovative technology and international cooperation are the best route to ensuring tourism-related economic growth and border security.
“Technological solutions are helping the global travel system move from physical to digital borders,” said Tiffany Misrahi, Aviation, Travel and Tourism Industry Lead at the World Economic Forum and principal author of the report. “Digital identification, biometrics, digitally enabled security devices and other tech-enabled screenings best increase accuracy, efficiency and security when travelling internationally.”
At stake in addition to security is the continued growth of the tourism sector. By 2030, a global population of 8.5 billion people will be taking nearly 2 billion international trips, and a forecasted 86 million new tourism-related jobs will be created by 2026. Enhanced digital screening will enable the travel and tourism sector to continue to be a major driving force for economic growth and jobs around the world
“Travel promotes peace and prosperity,” Arne Sorenson, Chief Executive Officer and President of Marriott International, and contributor to the study, said. “But the way we travel hasn’t changed much since the 1960s. Confronted with new challenges and opportunities, we need to revolutionize the journey using modern technologies to build a digital and inclusive system, trusted by travellers and governments alike, to connect us and keep us all safe.”
The study highlights seven areas that need to be addressed and advanced to plan for the future of travel:
1. Increase intelligence and data sharing, particularly secure, routine and harmonized intelligence and data sharing between sovereign national governments and international security actors on international travellers. While significant efforts to date have been undertaken to improve regular and timely information sharing, additional cooperation and collaboration are needed in protected data sharing among the various agencies of governments, international organizations and the travellers themselves.
2. Provide advance passenger information, driving forward the UN Security Council Resolution 2309 (2016) that urges countries to “Require that airlines operating in their territories provide advance passenger information to the appropriate national authorities to detect the departure from their territories, or attempted entry into or transit through their territories, by means of civil aircraft, of individuals designated by the Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015)”.
3. Make the traveller part of the solution through biometric profiling and other technology-enabled solutions. Looking to the future, national administrations should reconsider the role of the traveller in the travel security process and create an opportunity for travellers to own their qualified digital biometric profile and grant them the ability to push this secure accredited identification data in advance to facilitate travel. Traveller participation will enable the wider use of pre-clearance and will make international border crossings more efficient.
4. Use ICAO-approved enhanced and harmonized biometric standards. International organizations have established harmonized and routine sharing of traveller data, including biometrics for identity verification and travel eligibility, which have improved security and facilitated international travel and commerce between partner countries. To further this, national governments need to implement the international standards established by ICAO and assist emerging economies in implementing them.
5. Expand multilateral agreements. Based on the success of bilateral agreements to date and on the current state of international security, governments should aim to expand established agreements to multilateral application. These extended agreements should incorporate the harmonized requirements for traveller data collected.
6. Aim for a single application and a single fee. Many countries currently collect country-specific applications, with varying information requirements and separate application fees for travel security programmes. For multi-country implementation, there should be a single application to electronic travel systems with harmonized security requirements and a single cost-based fee with appropriate revenue sharing between participating governments.
7. Move to a digital process. Over time, the entire process of border management used by most travellers could be a wholly automated, electronic platform, built on verified biometric data. Evidence is clear that e-visas do not undermine security; they facilitate border crossings for many travellers, reduce paperwork and allow public safety officials to direct more attention and resources to threat identification.
Digital Borders: Enabling a secure, seamless and personalized journey was published in consultation with AccorHotels, Airside Mobile, Amadeus IT Group, AirAsia, Concur/SAP, Google, Hilton Worldwide, IATA, ICAO, INTERPOL, Marriott International, US Department of Commerce, US Department of Homeland Security, Visa and WTTC. You can read the full report here.
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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.