The question many have asked is what now for travel? Is it the end of the road for the backpacker traveling freely to the most fascinating corners of the world? Or for those annual sunny, lazy holidays in Thailand or Bali? What about the romantics heading off to Africa on safari or the pristine isles of the Maldives? Where do we stand?
We will travel again, that’s the good news. The bad news is travel as we know it, is over.
Perhaps one of the most obvious changes to travel will be what is known as “touchless travel.” Strict cleaning protocols simply isn’t enough as infection can still be caused by exchanging documents and touching surfaces through check-in, border control and security. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) automation across the entire sector will become the new norm. We can now look forward to contactless fingerprints, iris and face recognition. Voice recognition, gesture control and touchless document scanning technologies are currently being tested.
But wait, it gets interesting. IATA has allegedly done a survey among passengers which found that we travelers insist on visible sanitizing, screening and masks to make us feel safe. Now, I have been looking for this survey and its results but have found nothing. However, because of these amazing findings, airlines and travel companies can now ask for our age, travel history, underlying health conditions to assess how much of a risk you are before allowing you to travel. And what if they say no?
Tech giants, Apple and Google have been summoned to develop a contact-tracing scheme whereby they will use the bluetooth on your phone to alert them if you’re in too close proximity with someone who may have the corona virus. Your information will be sent (without your consent) to health authorities who will then insist that you self-quarantine for 14 days before traveling. So dare I ask, what if you don’t have the virus? What if you’re just feeling a little under the weather? Next thing you know airport security comes to usher you out of the airport.
But not to worry, this is only until you get your digital health passport which will show you have received the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine.
So if the digital health passport isn’t enough, the WEF in the best interest of the traveler, has developed what is called Known Traveler Digital Identity (KTDI). Here is a quote from their report published in 2018. Did they know something we didn’t?
“The Known Traveller Digital Identity concept is designed to enable the voluntary sharing of information whereby the individual builds up trust in their digital identity. To build a trusted “Known Traveller” status, travellers need attestations – authenticated claims as declared by a trusted entity – to be added to their Known Traveller Digital Identity each time a trusted entity – such as a post office or a governmental or educational institution – verifies a claim. In this concept, these attestations are the backbone of trust and the basis of reputation and, ultimately, how security decisions can be made.23 Examples of attestations are proof of citizenship in country X, an educational degree from college Y and proof of vaccination for viral disease Z. In the future, country A might authorize a traveller to enter the nation based on a previous risk assessment and the resulting attestation by country B.”
So there you have it. That is what the future of travel looks like. Quite frankly I’d rather stay at home.