Restoring international travel

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched a new report identifying four key digital solutions to restore international mobility.

The report ‘Digital Solutions for Reviving International Travel’ calls on governments to adopt a more internationally coordinated response to COVID-19 for the travel sector and to implement digital solutions that will facilitate the resumption of safe and stress-free international travel.

Following World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, WTTC identified four of the most widely used digital COVID vaccination certificates (EU Digital COVID Certificate, ICAO Visible Digital Seal, DIVOC, and SMART Health Cards), and urged governments to accept these major international standards as proof of COVID-19 status, whilst working towards a single global solution.

The report addresses the current global challenge posed by the existing patchwork of policies and processes, which are not only complex and unsustainable, but also further hinder the recovery of an already struggling sector.

To address this, the WTTC recommends governments create their own ‘Digital Travel Portal’, allowing travellers to electronically share their digital COVID vaccination or test certificates with their destination before they begin their journey. After booking their trip, travellers would simply go to the online portal managed by the destination, where their digital COVID certificate would be uploaded, verifying the status online and in seconds, avoiding confusing processes and long queues.

While some of what WTTC suggests is familiar, SMART health cards may not be.   The SMART Health Cards 30 standard is an open, interoperable format for sharing verifiable healthcare information. It provides individuals with an easy way to store their vaccination record or test result and share it with other organisations, who can verify that the information contained in the SMART Health Card has not been modified and comes from a trusted source. SMART Health Cards can be stored on Apple, Google and Samsung smart phones. Some countries have expressed an interest in using SMART Health Cards to share routine immunisation records in the future or for dealing with any future pandemics.