SITA launches visa tech as governments look to stimulate economies through travel

SITA launches visa tech as governments look to stimulate economies through travel

Aviation technology specialist says there is growing demand for digital solutions following the COVID-19 pandemic

Aviation sector technology specialist SITA has launched two new products aimed stimulating economic activity by improving the travel experience.

The Geneva-based developer says SITA eVisa and SITA Electronic Travel Authorization meet the “rapidly growing demand from governments for digital visa systems to stimulate national economies after COVID-19,strengthen security and improve the travel experience”.

SITA cited World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) data that shows the proportion of traditional visas that are applied for through a consulate or embassy have decreased from 77% in 2008 to 53% in 2018.

It says this underlines the growing demand for digital solutions to improve security, reduce administration, make travel easier, and increased visitor flows, to promote spending that benefits local economies and creates employment.

“For example, one government’s introduction of an eVisa scheme covering 40 plus countries in 2014-2015 led to a 21% increase in international visitor arrivals and the creation of 800,000 jobs accounted for around 20% of the growth seen in the country’s travel and tourism over the period,” SITA claimed.

Jeremy Springall, head of SITA At Borders, said: “Adopting eVisa and ETA supports national prosperity. We’ve productized our proven and robust travel authorisation systems to benefit more nations around the world as they shift to digitalise and future-proof their borders. 

“The solutions help countries to cope with growing passenger volumes, improve security and efficiency, and deliver a more seamless travel experience that travellers demand, removing the complexities of applying for traditional visas.

“The adaptability of these two solutions means that they are fully interoperable with existing border control and airline systems. And, they comply with international standards and best practices.”

SITA pioneered the first ETA system for the 2000 Sydney Olympics in 1996 to give authorities advance visibility into the significant influx of tourists crossing the border and to help reduce immigration bottlenecks.

The firm said for one major government customer in Asia Pacific today its system enables over three million ETAs to be issued each year,96% of applications result in the automatic issuance of an authorisation, and99% of all applications are processed in lessthan12 hours.

SITA’s new Visa and ETA capability allows travellers to make applications and provide their biometric information using their personal mobile devices before they travel. 

SITA says this is simpler, more convenient, and less time-consuming than applying for more complex traditional or on-arrival visas.

Governments can biometrically verify the applicant’s identity and the mobile app also creates ICAO-compliant Digital Travel Credentials (DTCs) which is a development in digital identity for travel that some believe will replace physical passports in the future.

SITA’seVisa and ETA solutions provide visas containing ICAO’s Visible Digital Seal (VDS),an encrypted bar code that enables visas and ETAs, paper or electronic, to be digitally verified for authenticity, offering enhanced security and fraud prevention.