Traveling, sightseeing, exploring… These activities are inherent in man and his innovative nature. For many of us, seeing new places and cultures is an integral part of our lives. We cannot imagine our life without traveling. The smaller trips to family and friends, and the larger excursions to completely unknown corners of the world, are always exciting.
The pandemic made us unable to travel in the blink of an eye. Many countries initially closed their borders and imposed large restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease. At that time, cybercriminals became very active, and many companies began to think about better protection of customers and themselves against cyber attacks. What will it be like to travel while slowly returning to normal? What serious changes await us? What role can identity verification play in all of this?
The tourism industry has been one of the most influenced by the outbreak of the pandemic. Suddenly, the world stopped, and with it, tourism and leisure. In 2020, there was a 74% decrease in tourist arrivals (1.5 billion tourists in 2019 and only 281 million in 2020 worldwide). These results set us back 30 years, and experts believe rebuilding will not be easy. It is estimated that it may take 2.5 to 4 years to return to 2019 revenues and relatively normal traveling. The hotel industry and booking platforms were also severely affected by the restrictions. Airbnb experienced a 64% decrease in the number of guests who canceled or wanted to cancel their stay with a given host. Despite the negative side, we are also witnessing some positive changes. The greatest of these is a technological leap, the effects of which, under normal conditions, could only be felt in three or four years. It is caused by the common need for identity verification at airports, booking platforms, or when recruiting new employees.
The first change that stands out is the way we travel. We choose to travel by car much more often than by public forms of transport. 74% of respondents in the United States said they would feel most comfortable taking a road trip right now. Very popular at the moment are staycations i.e. holidays and vacations within the country. The word itself in the Google search engine has increased more than fivefold over five years, including the most in late 2020 and 2021. Choosing places far away from civilization has become not only a preventive measure but also a form of calming down and relaxing. Another change is the higher safety and hygiene requirements. More often we decide to rent whole houses or apartments, and not rooms in hotels or boarding houses. Due to that, many places have invested in technological innovations, such as cleaning robots, to attract visitors.
How are tourism-related industries approaching the issue of cybersecurity? The biggest change is seen in airlines that test touchless verification mechanisms. This method is possible with Canadian airlines and is based on biometric verification. Thanks to it, we avoid unnecessary contact with third parties, and the airlines have a guarantee of safety and can verify passengers boarding the planes. Remote identity verification can be successfully used by booking platforms, hotels, and guest houses. It allows you to avoid the dangers of fraud such as identity theft or synthetic identity fraud and be sure that the guest we let into the property actually has a valid reservation and is who he claims to be. Fully – Verified has tools that make identity verification for the tourism industry smooth and 100% safe. Our solutions allow the user to go through an intuitive and simple process independently or live with the help of a specialist. Both options allow you to comprehensively and effectively verify the identity of a given person and confirm the authenticity of documents.
Vaccination and mass immunity might be a great hope for normal travel. At the end of May, the European Union decided that it would open its borders to vaccinated tourists. However, each EU member will be able to decide whether it wants to maintain additional preventive methods, such as quarantine or tests. Additionally, there were voices about creating a covid passport. The whole system is currently being tested, and most of the EU members have joined them so that from July, fully vaccinated people can cross borders easier. EU representatives emphasize that the passport must not discriminate against those who, for various reasons, cannot get vaccinated. These people will also be able to travel, but they will have to adapt to the restrictions and security measures in a given country.
Some countries have already started testing their own solutions. Denmark, since Easter, has a Coronapas, which is used to ease the restrictions and, after presenting the relevant certificates, allows residents to go to the hairdresser or cinema. Israel also uses its system called green pass. The code displayed in the application allows Israelians to enter the theater, book a hotel room or go to Greece or Cyprus, which were among the first to allow Israelians tourists to visit their country. Similar solutions are also introduced by Great Britain and also Estonia, which is one of the most digitized societies in the world.
So we are at a point where the technological aspects are rushing forward, but the role of cybersecurity remains important. When creating covid passports, countries need to share a lot of sensitive data and create a secure system that will be able to resist cybercriminals. For the solution to work, you need access to millions of personal data and an appropriate identity verification method to link a specific person to their health history. We know that the health system is particularly vulnerable to hacker attacks, and the pandemic has also exposed breaches in security systems. Institutions spend less than 6% of their budget on cybersecurity issues, and 88% of employees open phishing emails because they don’t know how to spot them. Further doubts are raised by paying attention to the regulations that countries will have to fulfill, so this type of passport document could be used properly. Many of them will have to adapt to requirements where remote identity verification may be a solution. The same applies to the ethical issues regarding respect for the freedom of people who decide not to have this special passport.
For some people, going back to traveling will be the greatest sign of well-known reality. Research shows that traveling can reduce stress levels, increase productivity at work and have a positive impact on our health. Today, safety and travel controls are even more important than before the pandemic. It is worth using companies that not only care about our comfort but also we can feel safe using their services.