SITA recently announced the launch of SITA eVisa and SITA Electronic Travel Authorisation to 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.
Governments globally are shifting to modern travel authorisation solutions, like electronic visas and Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETAs). According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), traditional visas – applications made via a consulate or embassy – decreased from 77 percent in 2008 to 53 percent in 2018. There is a growing demand for digital travel solutions.
The advantages of digital authorisation solutions include improved security, reduced administrative burden, easier travel, and increased visitor flows, promoting 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 percent increase in international visitor arrivals and the creation of 800,000 jobs accounted for around 20 percent of the growth seen in the country’s travel and tourism over the period.
SITA has deployed border management solutions for over 25 years to support cross-border mobility while safeguarding borders, helping over 70 countries today. In 1996, SITA pioneered the first ETA system for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The aim was to give authorities advance visibility into the huge influx of tourists crossing the border, helping to reduce immigration bottlenecks.
For one major government customer in Asia Pacific today, SITA’s ETA system enables over 3 million ETAs to be issued each year, 96 percent of applications result in the automatic issuance of an authorisation, and 99 percent of all applications are successfully processed in less than 12 hours.
The mobile capability of SITA’s new eVisa and ETA capability allows travelers to make applications and provide their biometric information using their personal devices before they travel. For travelers, this is simpler, more convenient, and less time-consuming than applying for more complex traditional or on-arrival visas. For governments, they can biometrically verify the applicant’s identity. The mobile app also creates ICAO-compliant Digital Travel Credentials (DTCs) – a development in digital identity for travel that may replace physical passports in the future.
SITA’s eVisa 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.