WTTC salutes ICAO efforts on biometrics and urges fast implementation

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has saluted the work of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on digital identity and urged member states to adopt biometrics and related technologies to improve the efficiency of traveler journeys.

During her opening keynote at the ICAO Traveller Identification Programme (TRIP) Symposium in Montreal, WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara noted that more than 1.4 billion people cross international borders for business or leisure purposes, and 4.4 billion trips are made by airplane each year, contributing 10.4 percent of global GDP and supporting 319 million jobs.

“Biometric technology represents the future of travel. It will help us to make the traveler journey more secure and more efficient,” Guevara says. “I would like to recognize the work of ICAO in helping to introduce digital traveler identity processes into the traveler journey and encourage ICAO Member States to adopt them as soon as possible to avoid being left behind.”

Guevara also echoed a sentiment expressed by several industry stakeholders to Biometric Update in a recent review of the airport biometric market; air traffic is growing much faster than the infrastructure possibly can.

“The benefit of this travel is obvious – greater economic prosperity to a growing number of people – but it cannot be achieved with the current infrastructure. We must do things differently. We must adopt biometric technology and digital traveler identity processes at our borders,” Guevara argues.

“That is why we wholly support the work the ICAO Traveller Identification Programme and we urge ICAO Member States which are issuing ePassports to participate in the ICAOthe Public Key Directory (PKD) for exchanging the information required to authenticate and validate ePassports.”

Encouraging the adoption of biometric technology has been at the heart of the WTTC’s agenda for the past two years, during which it has engaged with industry stakeholders from the ICAO, IATA, the World Economic Forum, and other organizations. Through its Seamless Traveller Journey Programme, WTTC has consulted with more than 200 industry stakeholders over the past year, and considered approximately 53 different initiatives and biometric technology trials in the sector. The scope of the ecosystem necessitates coordination on interoperability, according to Guevara.

“Aviation leads the world in adopting biometric technology in travel and ICAO sets the standards for aviation and related air transport facilitation,” she says. “I salute the efforts of ICAO and urge all Member States to take all necessary to speed up the adoption of digital traveler identity and, subsequently, biometric processes.”

Guevara has also called for the aviation industry to support IATA’s One ID, and suggested it is unfortunate that the opportunity for a single biometric solution was missed.

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