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 – released today (Monday 3 November).
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.
Ian Yeomans, Futurologist, shares his thoughts on where he sees the travel industry heading. “The concept of biometrics has been around since the 19th century when Alphonse Bertillon developed the concept for French police and today it is the central concept for securing personal identity. Biometrics goes beyond passports, it is the central feature of facial recognition systems that will appear on google glass.
“Disney is already using fingerprint scanning to fight against forged resort passes.”
World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “The world was very different in 1980, when WTM started, so it’s intriguing to gaze into the future and consider the next 35 years in travel.
“We didn’t have the internet or mobile phones everywhere 35 years ago – but we still had concerns about terrorism and the economy.
“Fingerprint technology is already with us in many places so I imagine it will become ubiquitous – as will iPads for holidaymakers.
“But space tourism is one of those futuristic developments that has always seemed just around the corner, ever since man first stepped on the moon in 1969.
“Virgin Galactic has been leading the way and had hoped to launch flights into space by 2007, but now is aiming for spring 2015.
“What is certain, however, is that the travel industry constantly evolves, providing new jobs and prosperity for the future, and exciting holidays for consumers.
“And WTM will be around, providing a forum for the industry to make those future plans become a reality.”
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About World Travel Market
World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.
More than 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.
WTM, now in its 35th year, is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals.
WTM 2013 generated more than £2 billion of travel industry contracts, revealed independent research by Fusion Communications.
WTM is owned by the world’s leading events organiser Reed Exhibitions (RE), which organises a other portfolio’s of travel industry events including IBTM Events, the world’s leading showcases for the meetings and events industry and International Luxury Travel Market events.
In 2013, RE held more than 500 events in 40 countries bringing together more than six million people from around the world generating billions of dollars in business.
Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry, with a wide-ranging portfolio of 21 international events in 14 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa.
Its market-leading, business-to-business events cover all elements of travel and tourism, including leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, events, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.
RTE is part of Reed Exhibitions.