International co-operation is needed to usher in a new era of digital traveller identity systems to help global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The World Travel & Tourism Council is recommending global guidelines for a ‘Safe & Seamless Traveller Journey’ related to traveller identity and security in the ‘new normal’.

IBM is contributing to the initiative.

Global managing director travel and transportation, Dee Waddell, said: “Digital travel credentials such as identity, biometrics, and health certifications are a critical part of transforming and emerging even stronger from the devastating impacts from the pandemic.

“Travel and tourism is a resilient sector and ensuring a rapid return to growth will be enabled by next-generation technologies.”

WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “WTTC’s new report comes at a time when travel and tourism is struggling to stay afloat.

“We believe that the Safe & Seamless Traveller Journey will not only be paramount in aiding a swift recovery to the sector, but also in shaping the new normal of travel and tourism for years to come.

“This important initiative enables mobility and increases safety and security, while always putting the passenger at the very centre.”

She added: “There is no doubt that international co-ordination is necessary, which is why our guidelines aim to bring clarity to a recovery process that has been disjointed and confused.

“We hope that this, along with our many other guidelines for safe travels, will help usher in further consumer confidence.”

The proposal has been welcomed by industry leaders, including the boss of MSC Cruises, which has been leading a return to sailing in the Mediterranean.

The line’s executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: “Leveraging technology to improve the movement of guests through the various stages of travel will make our industry more efficient, more secure, and more adaptable.

“Use of this type of technology will enhance the guest experience at MSC Cruises and enhance our operations.

“Where both things can be done simultaneously, that is a winning combination.

“We appreciate that WTTC has undertaken this project for the collective benefit of the travel community.”