by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE coronavirus pandemic has rendered freedom of movement complicated.
After months of restrictions, marked by closures of borders and airspaces, the travel industry is in urgent need of recovery.
This is especially so for African countries that rely on inbound tourism for their economy.
They face impediments in efforts to revive travel, particularly the challenge of submitting and verifying health documentation.
It is against the backdrop of this that SITA (Societe Internationale De Telecommunications Aeronautiques or International Aeronautical Telecommunications Company) is making its Digital Travel Declaration solution available to governments anywhere in the world.
The solution by the air transport industry’s information technology provider allows passengers to share required travel and health documentation with governments ahead of travel.
SITA has worked closely with governments, leveraging its Electronic Travel Authorization solution to deliver a health-oriented travel declaration that informs governments on passenger health status in advance of travel and optionally issues authority to travel.
“In many cases, today’s onerous health requirements are discouraging travelers from flying or leading to long lines at airports,” said David Lavorel, Chief Executive Officer of SITA: Airports and Borders.
“As an industry-owned organization working at the crossroads of airlines, airports, and governments, we are able to connect the dots and streamline processes around health documentation,” he added.
The executive believes making Digital Travel Declaration freely available to governments will be an investment in the recovery of the industry.
“We hope will go some way towards addressing the challenges we all face today,” Lavorel said.
While SITA’s Digital Travel Declaration addresses the current health documentation required during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be used to streamline the introduction of other travel requirements.
These include future pandemics, local health concerns or more traditional security and immigration travel authorisations.
Recent research from IATA, surveying 50 countries, 38 countries had some form of COVID-19 restriction on who could enter.
For many countries, economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic relies heavily on travel and tourism.
According to World Travel and Tourism Council’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, in 2019 travel and tourism was responsible for one in ten jobs.
This makes a 10,3 percent contribution to global gross domestic product (GDP) and generating one in four of all new jobs.
However, inefficiencies and a lack of common standards around managing health documentation remain the single biggest obstacle to rebuilding the travel and tourism industry and supporting economic growth.
– CAJ News