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Fingerprint passports tipped as top travel trend

Fingerprint passports and visa control came top in the list of developments expected by 2049 and were cited by 64% of the 1,011 holidaymakers surveyed for the WTM Consumer Survey. Fingerprint identification was substantially ahead of other predicted developments: space tourism (34%) and tours in driverless vehicles (34%) were second in the list, followed by hypersonic flights (31%).

Holidaymakers in 2049 will all have fingerprint identification on their passports, according to two polls from World Travel Market – the leading global event for the travel industry. More than 2,200 holidaymakers and people from the travel industry were quizzed for the surveys, both of which asked about travel in 35 years’ time – because WTM is now in its 35th year.

Fingerprint passports and visa control came top in the list of developments expected by 2049 and were cited by 64% of the 1,011 holidaymakers surveyed for the WTM Consumer Survey. Fingerprint identification was substantially ahead of other predicted developments: space tourism (34%) and tours in driverless vehicles (34%) were second in the list, followed by hypersonic flights (31%).

In the World Travel Market 2014 Industry Report – collated from 1,229 travel trade respondents – almost half (49%) said fingerprint passports and visa control were very likely, and a further 40% said quite likely. Coming second in the industry survey was “iPads used by guests as in-resort entertainment”, regarded as quite likely or very likely by 81%.

The use of iPads was cited by 23% of those in the consumer survey.

The UK has been issuing “biometric” passports – also known as “ePassports” – since 2006. The passports include a microchip which stores a digitised image of the holder’s passport photograph as well as the biographical details printed on the passport.

The European Union has set minimum standards for passports which include the use of facial and fingerprint biometrics but the UK is not covered by the regulations. Fingerprint identification on passports had been planned by the previous UK Government, in order to keep pace with the EU regulations. However, the current coalition Government halted these plans and does not intend to extend the use of biometrics in UK passports beyond facial biometrics. Visitors to the US will be familiar with fingerprinting, as the identification technology is used at border control points – and by theme parks such as Universal in Orlando.

Fingerprints are also used for identification in other sectors: Barclays is launching a new “biometric reader” that can identify customers by the veins in their finger, and mobile phone users have the technology in smartphones such as the iPhone 5S.

Green Credentials Are High on Travel’s Agenda
The vast majority of travel companies consider sustainability is important to their business, according to the World Travel Market 2014 Industry Report. A total of 86% said they consider sustainability to be important to their company, with 10% of those quizzed saying it had a central importance. Two fifths (40%) said it was very important while 36% said it was quite important.

And the findings bode well for the future too, as a third (30%) said the issue would “significantly increase” in importance over the next three years, and two fifths (41%) predicted it will “slightly increase” in importance in the next three years.

The World Travel Market 2014 Industry Report also shows that green issues are important for many holidaymakers, although not to the extent they are for the travel trade.

A poll of 1,011 UK holidaymakers, who had a seven night holiday either in the UK or abroad in 2014, for WTM found that more than a third (36%) consider the environment and sustainability when making a decision about booking a holiday.

However, the research also found that internet connectivity ranks higher, as 42% said access to free Wi-Fi affected their booking plans.

Sustainable tourism is now well established within the travel trade, thanks to firms such as responsibletravel.com and initiatives such as The Travel Foundation and WTM’s successful Responsible Tourism programme and World Responsible Tourism Day – the biggest day of responsible tourism action in the world.

Major travel groups issue sustainability reports to inform investors and consumers about their progress, and the aviation industry has set targets for carbon neutral growth and cutting CO2 emissions in half.

Recently, TUI Travel was placed fourth in the annual ranking of the FTSE 100 companies by carbon management organisation Carbon Clear, which assesses best-practice carbon reporting processes, strategy and performance.

Thomas Cook Group says sustainability is at the “heart of its business” and its Code of Conduct covers key areas such as operating sustainably, community engagement and child protection issues.

The trade’s efforts are reflected among consumers too, as demonstrated by a recent report from Lonely Planet and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), marking the 100th anniversary of commercial air travel.

The report said green travel is on the rise as travellers expect companies to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, prompting a boom in ecotourism and volunteering abroad.

Air Tax Cut Will Encourage More Long-Haul Holidays
The travel trade expects more tourists to book holidays in far-flung destinations in 2015, thanks to tax cuts on long-haul flights, according to the World Travel Market 2014 Industry Report. More than two thirds (68%) of industry respondents quizzed for the report think tourists will be more likely to fly to long-haul destinations after the top rates of Air Passenger Duty (APD) fall in April 2015.

The Chancellor announced changes to the controversial APD rates in the Budget of March 2014, after intensive lobbying from the trade and destinations that have been hit by anomalies in the scheme.

It means that the most expensive bands – Bands C and D – will be scrapped, so long-haul destinations will fall under Band B from April 2015.

ABTA estimated that moving long-haul flights into Band B will save passengers more than £200 million annually, and should boost travel and tourism, as well as promote greater UK connectivity.

Destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean and Australia are among those expected to see visitor numbers from the UK rise as a result of the tax changes.

Australia, Canada, Japan, Vietnam, China, India and New Zealand were all destination cited by the 1,011 2014 UK holidaymakers as targeted holiday destinations for 2015.

The burden of taxation and red tape is further reflected in the report’s finding that 80% of the 1,229 respondents feel that the travel and tourism industry is over-taxed in general, and 46% believe it is over-regulated.

Meanwhile, those in the trade selling transatlantic flights and holidays also received a boost in the findings of the report, as the US was predicted to be in the top three holiday destinations for 2015. It was tipped along with short-haul destinations Italy and Spain.

A further clue pointing to more potential growth for the US market came in the World Travel Market 2014 Industry Report.

This quizzed more than 1,000 holidaymakers in the UK and found that almost half (44%) were aware of the major expansions at Florida’s theme parks this year.

WTM Industry Report 2014

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