… So we decided to look into it to find out exactly what everyone meant by ‘COVID Pass’, and what this could mean for tourism (and tourism operators).
What is a digital passport?
A digital passport is an app downloaded to your device which displays your COVID test results or vaccination history, so border control staff or travel attendants can easily see your risk of catching or spreading the virus. Many countries already ask for specific vaccinations prior to entry – for example, some nationalities must present a certificate for vaccination against yellow fever before entering Costa Rica. This solution is much the same, it will just be recorded digitally. You simply upload or search for your travel, and the app will tell you what restrictions or requirements are in place for that route or destination. Once you know what you need, you can start preparing for your travel and update the app with your test or vaccination results as required. By presenting the app to staff, you’ll be able to verify your health and reassure them that you’re not taking any chances!
Who is issuing them?
Actually, quite a few places! There are a lot of different app providers, from CoronaPass, to AOKPass and CommonPass. We’re seeing more partnerships between trusted digital passport services and travel/ tourism providers, and airlines and events may embed certain requirements into booking processes. Whether this evolves into in-house solutions, such as airline apps developing their own digital passport health check, remains to be seen.
Is my data secure?
For an app that is going to have significantly less data on you than your Facebook app, these digital passports are up against a lot of scepticism! But that scepticism drives these companies to demonstrate their commitment to your security and their respective solutions – from blockchain to VCode – are all prominently explained and advertised on their websites. They know it’s going to make or break the adoption of their product, and they want you to know the lengths they’ve gone to.
Will this reopen travel?
We’re still in early days, so it’s difficult to know what kind of role this will play. Aruba is the only country to officially sign on with a digital passport solution with most other countries holding fast to border restrictions. Rather than digital passports reopening travel, it will be reopening travel that allows digital passports to reach their full potential. Until there’s more widespread adoption of the technology and vaccination, and more opportunity to travel freely, digital passports will be waiting in the wings.