United States of America
In April 2018, over 5 million individuals had enrolled in the United States’ Global Entry, a 100% increase from FY2015 (2.4 million). Global Entry is the US’ flagship Trusted Traveller Program, which provides expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travellers upon arrival in the United States.
In recent years, the program has expanded the eligibility to foreign nationals from more than a dozen participating countries and kiosks available to members at 70 airports worldwide. Effectively, Global Entry streamlines the international arrivals process at airports for ‘trusted travellers’. It enables ‘Trusted Travellers’ to bypass traditional CBP inspection lines and use an automated kiosk to complete their admission to the US. Individual authentication and verification are undertaken through biometric technology, notably, a combination of fingerprint scans, passport check and digital picture authentication.
Global Entry is offered to US Citizens, US lawful permanent residents and citizens of select countries, of select countries, starting with Mexico in November 2011 and now including Argentina, Colombia, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland and the UK.
In June 2018, CBP announced it would be moving towards Global Entry 2.0, making trusted travellers’ entry into the US even faster and more secure by utilising facial recognition technology. It is
launching a pilot at Orlando International Airport integrating facial recognition into Global Entry Kiosks.
WTTC estimates that the implementation of these policies contributed to the growth in international arrivals from 54.9 million to 79.9 million between 2009 and 2018, which enabled the creation of 294,000 new jobs.
Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International airport is one of the safest in the world. It has layers of security, only partially visible to the 16 million passengers who pass through every year. Security begins in the Airport Security Operations Centre which monitors every flight in Israeli airspace, including transit and nearby aircraft. Each flight, each passenger and each member of the flight crew are checked long before arriving in Israeli airspace. An off-course aircraft or a flight without proper security clearance is flagged immediately. There are an estimated ten flights checked daily.
All vehicles that arrive at Ben Gurion must first pass through a preliminary security checkpoint, where armed guards search the vehicle and exchange a few words with the driver and occupants. Vehicles are subject to a weight sensor, a trunk x-ray and undercarriage scan. Plain clothes officers patrol the area outside the terminal building, assisted by sophisticated hidden surveillance cameras. Armed security personnel patrol the terminal and keep a close eye on people entering the terminal.
Departing passengers are questioned by highly trained security agents before they reach the check-in counter. These interviews could last as little as one minute or as long as one hour, based on such factors as age, race, religion and destination. Unlike in many western airports, there are no sophisticated x-ray machines; but rather, traditional metal detectors. Passenger security is more focused on the “Human Factor”, based on the assumption that terrorist attacks are carried out by people who can be found and have been stopped. Checked luggage is put in a pressure chamber to trigger any possible explosive devices and robots patrol the airport grounds.
Ben Gurion airport does not sub-contract its security to private companies. Given their priority in ensuring safety and preventing terrorist attacks, the personnel on duty at Ben Gurion are highly trained army graduates who have specialist skills in detection and interrogation. Agents also pay close attention to the parts of the airport that passengers do not frequent, such as fences around the airport’s perimeter, which are always monitored with cameras, and radar systems that check for intrusions when weather prevents cameras from effectively broadcasting.
Australia has been at the forefront of “Visas” for decades, launching its Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) as early as 1996 and becoming the first country in the world to launch electronic visas.
In 2017, Australia announced its plan for advanced biometric airport checks across all international airports by 2020. Australia aims to be the first to introduce an entirely automatic, seamless
processing system for incoming passengers based solely on their biometric data (fingerprints, iris and facial recognition).
A tender has also been launched for companies to submit technology solutions that will do away with passports completely and replace immigration officers with electronic stations and automatic triage. The aim is to process 90% of all incoming passengers by 2020 solely based on their face, iris and fingerprints.
Australia introduced biometrics at airports in 2012. In 2016, the AUS$50 million roll-out of SmartGates had been completed, with 83 gates in operation across Australia’s eight international airports. Between 2015 & 2016, 10 million passengers had selfprocessed through the departure SmartGates. The government is now looking to retire the SmartGates and implement a new automated “contactless” border control solution to replace and improve the current process for arriving air travellers. During May and June 2017, the country tested the world’s first “contactless” immigration technology at Canberra International Airport. The passport-free facial recognition system confirms a traveller’s identity by matching his or her face against stored data.
WTTC estimates that improvements in visa policy led to a 6% uplift in inbound demand, leading to the creation of 15,000 new jobs.
Aruba & The Netherlands
In 2015, a unique and state-of-the-art passenger project, known as Aruba Happy Flow, was initiated in Aruba’s Airport. This innovative scheme enables passengers on select flights to show their passports only once during their journey. Using facial recognition, passengers can check in, drop off luggage, cross the border and board the aircraft without showing a passport or boarding pass again. Thanks to this process, clearing each checkpoint takes only a matter of seconds. New biometric Passenger Touch Points introduced ‘on the move’ technology, which feeds the airline agent with timely passenger information.
The initiative was designed to make the passenger process more secure and seamless. It was the result of cooperation between the Dutch and Aruban governments, the Aruba Airport Authority, Schiphol Group and KLM, in collaboration with Vision Box. Aruba Happy Flow merged the border control process with the private passenger process at the airport. At present, 70% of passengers use the “Happy Flow”, the remaining 30% being ineligible due to age, nationality, etc.
The African Union (AU) launched its African passport during the opening ceremony of the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in July 2016. The rationale for the creation of this pan-African passport is for all African citizens to be able to travel throughout the continent without visas.
There will be two passports, one for African Union officials and people who travel a lot on business and the other issued by individual countries for everyone else. The latter is expected to become available by 2020. The passport will be a biometric or e-passport, meeting international standards and modelled on the European Union passport.
The Africa Development Bank’s (AfDB) report on Visa Openness found that only 13 out of 55 countries allow all Africans to enter either without a visa or to get one on arrival. The passport will open up the other 41 (excluding Morocco) for trade and travel.
APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC)
The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) comprises Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
It allows business travellers pre-cleared, facilitated short-term entry to participating member economies. The ABTC removes the need to apply for individual visas or entry permits, saving valuable time, and allows multiple entries into participating economies during the three years during which the card is valid.
Cardholders also benefit from faster immigration processing on arrival through fast-track entry and exit through special APEC lanes at major airports in participating economies. The ABTC enhances border integrity and security in participating economies by providing benefits to border agencies increases the number of low-risk travellers since each applicant is checked against ‘watch lists’ of other participating states. Therefore, the ABTC carries savings not only for business people, but also for governments.