Three-quarters of travelers expect
international border processes to look dramatically different by the end of this
decade, according to a global study by strategy and consulting firm Accenture.
The report, Borders 2030: From vision to reality, is based
on the company’s research and analysis of travelers, traders, border
specialists and futurists.
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Travelers are in favor of technology solutions that will improve their border experiences, the study finds. Two-thirds say they prefer to
apply for immigration and visas digitally rather than in-person. More than half (56%) say
facial-recognition technology will make international travel faster and more
seamless. And 72% of travelers say they are open to
border agencies sharing their data with other government agencies to improve
The report identifies three emerging trends around tech adoption at borders:
- Focusing on travelers’
need for “clarity, consistency, simplicity and predictability”
- Using facial-recognition
technology and digital wallets to reveal a traveler’s identity
- Joining the metaverse, which involves participating in a virtual
world. Travelers could preview
destinations, learn about local cultures and augment actual trips using “extended reality” technology, Accenture’s study says. Virtual tourism could push border offices into the metaverse and
create a new “channel of interaction for business-to-consumer,
business-to-business and business-to-government trade,” the report states.
“We expect such changes to unfold quite rapidly between now and 2030,” says Prasanna Ellanti, who leads Accenture’s border services work. “Travelers and traders show very strong support for deploying new and emerging technology advances, and we see growing demands and pressures on agencies ushering in a period of true reinvention of how they deliver border services.”
About one-third (30%) of travelers surveyed say they are planning to travel more internationally than they did before the pandemic. This spike in travel could pose a challenge at borders, with 54% of travelers calling for shorter wait times at security checkpoints.
Traveler expectations have implications for the travel industry: More than half (57%) of international travelers say they choose their travel or layover destination based on whether they anticipate having a “seamless and easy” experience with border security. More than one-quarter (28%) say they have changed travel or layover destinations because they anticipated a difficult border experience, the study finds.
“We need to leverage technology to create [a] more frictionless experience for travelers and the movement of goods,” Ellanti says. “This includes focusing on customer expectations, enhancing data capabilities and embracing emerging technologies such as the metaverse.”
However, as critical as digital technology is to enhancing border experiences, 60% of travelers say they want some form of human interaction at the border in the future.
Strides have been made in travel and tourism recently to streamline boarder crossing and arrivals processes. With the installation of Travizory’s biometric corridor in spring 2022, the Seychelles arrival experience was completely transformed into a digital, contactless and paperless one.
The World Travel and Tourism Council in May asked governments to introduce a “digital travel portal” to allow for safer travel that reduces delays at airports.
In February 2021, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection unveiled the CBP One Mobile App, which guides travelers to appropriate services, such as reporting their arrival, completing documents or making appointments.