Residents across the UAE have taken the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic on the travel industry in 2020 in stride, and are hopeful that the introduction of digital health passports will make international travel easier this year.
According to a recent study commissioned by Amadeus, 91 per cent of travellers surveyed globally would be comfortable using a digital health passport for future trips. In addition, the study also showed that 96 per cent of UAE travellers would be comfortable using digital health passports to help restart travel. Furthermore, 51 per cent of UAE travellers said they would book international travel within six weeks of restrictions lifting, demonstrating that the appetite to travel remains high.
When asked about their receptiveness to storing and sharing digital health data, 82 per cent of travellers from the UAE said that they would be willing to store their travel health data electronically if it enabled them to pass through the airport faster and with fewer face-to-face interactions. In addition, 78 per cent said that they would be willing if it resulted in them being able to travel sooner.
Christophe Bousquet, CTO at Amadeus, said that it is very relevant to see that travellers are open to digital health passports and sharing their data as they move through the journey, once the right safeguards are in place. “Travellers now place more focus on mobile and touchless technology, crucial areas that will clearly strengthen traveller confidence.”
The results of the survey also showed that 58 per cent of UAE travellers would be comfortable using a digital passport if it was accepted by most countries and was regulated by international standards, while 47 per cent would be comfortable if only Covid-19-specific data was included in any health passport. In addition, 78 per cent would be more likely to store health data on an app where a travel company has partnered with a trusted healthcare company.
When it comes to digitising the travel experience, 52 per cent of UAE travellers said that a travel app that could be used across the whole journey would greatly improve their overall travel experience, while 51 per cent said that it would “reassure them their information is all in one place.” Also, 55 per cent agreed that a travel app would “reduce their stress” about travelling.
Ernesto Sanchez Beaumont, MD of Amadeus Gulf, said that the realities of living alongside Covid-19 will continue to shape the way we travel for some time, just as the pandemic has influenced other areas of daily living. “Collaboration across governments and our industry is key to restarting travel, but we must also deliver on traveller expectations and work to allay their concerns. Travellers in the UAE continue to look to technology to help make their journeys digitally connected, safe and frictionless.”
While travellers across the UAE have been very receptive to the idea of digital health passports, there are still some concerns about sharing their personal and medical data, and the safety protocols in place to protect this data. When asked, the three main concerns of UAE travellers revolved around the security risks associated with personal information being hacked; privacy concerns around what health information needs to be shared; and a lack of transparency and control over where the data is shared. When asked about which technology would increase their confidence to travel in the next 12 months, mobile solutions were highlighted as a popular option among UAE travellers, with the top three technologies including mobile boarding such as having your boarding pass on your mobile phone; contactless mobile payments such as Apple or Google Pay, Paypal, Venmo; and mobile applications that provide on-trip notifications and alerts.
Events to be staged at the DWTC, comprising diverse sectors including construction, energy, technology, beauty, food, healthcare, environment and automotive, will mark the emirate’s post-pandemic economic recovery