Travel Predictions for 2031

Past

Being born in the early 80s, I am part of the generation where we have experienced technological improvements impacting our way of life. Fortunately / unfortunately, my generation is the last to grow up without social media.

Historically speaking, it has been amazing to witness the advancements in internet infrastructure. Especially in South Africa. I am proud to say that I have experienced the touch of a rotating manual telephone dial and arm wrestling a car window handle.

I still dread the sound of a 50k modem singing and the duration it took to start up Windows 95.

My son will never have to experience these dated practices.

Comparing my generation to that of my parents generation, my generation is adaptive to change. Our thought process embraces the structure that technology operates in.

The frustration my parents share in engaging in any new technology is the only constant component I have to embrace as we continue to advance in our “life improving” changes.

Present

The reason for this reflection is to help clarify that I consider myself very technologically adaptive. Especially in these mature days of my career. I find myself constantly working on adaptive (and responsive) interaction in our client dealings.

I am constantly setting up proactive solutions so that our clients experience the most efficient user journey.

Having looked at the past and the present, the purpose of this article is that I want to share my vision for the future. As a person who embraces technology that is.

More importantly, the future of travel.

Observations

Before I do so, I want to back up my vision by talking about global technologies that exist today.

China is fast becoming the worlds first cashless society. No longer need to physically handle coins and notes.

More interestingly, China has setup technology that allows mobile phones to link for payment purposes. Bank cards are also not really used in China for payment purposes. Payments by phone is common practice.

Confirmation of this can be found here.

The other observation is the UK government. Easily considered the most technology forward country when it comes to border control.

eVisas have been around for a long time. Electronic format of visa. No longer a vignette (sticker) placed in ones passport. Rather a barcode image stored on ones mobile. Not made available to third world countries though.

With the roll out of Brexit however, the UK government tested some new technology. One that really entertains my advancement interests.

The UK government created a feature that allows for document uploading and biometric capturing on one’s mobile device.

EU nationals were asked to complete their “identity verification” on their mobile device. Their mobile “app” would then capture facial recognition and conduct fingerprint scans.

Here is a video showing their system:

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This technology is going to render the existing need for outsourced commercial agencies, who facilitate public dealings on their behalf, as a dated practice.

Future

My 2031 prediction: No more physical passports.

With blockchain technology, which operates on military grade encryption, passports will be electronically stored on one’s mobile device. Technology forward governments will issue “ePassports” and these will be accepted at borders around the world.

This in turn means: Quicker verification queues at the border.

Applicants can land, collect luggage, have their identity verified quickly. Allowing travellers to pass through the border seamlessly.

Dual “automated” verifications can also take place more thoroughly, a stronger before departure check may take place and one again upon arrival. Strengthening the security considerations.

eVisas will be linked to the ePassports block chain technology. Allowing for other governments to grant permission for entry permits, linking approval to the applicant’s ePassport record. The pre-departure checks will factor in consent easily.

Governments will also be able to link tax, criminal and medical history to the ePassport records. Setting up one strong database for governments control.

Government will also offer online access to birth and marriage records through this block chain technology. Reducing the need for the Home Affairs manual system (hopefully).

A possibility, although unlikely, is one where employers and their tax compliance could be linked to the ePassport chain. Rendering a new era of “identification”. Contracts could be signed using ePassport reference over ID numbers used in SA.

Future user journey

My vision for the future of travel is this:

The average person, born in South Africa, will have access to their ePassport issued from the South Africa government, stored on their mobile device.

This person can apply for permission to visit other countries through their mobile devices and pay for the transaction online, never breaking from their mobile device engagement.

Any verification documents needed will be captured and uploaded through mobile phone interaction.

Biometrics (fingerprint and facial recognition scans) will be processed on the mobile device. The days of appointments, queuing and courier interaction should be gone. The administration we face now in 2021 should no longer exist.

As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus once said:

The only constant in life is change.
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