TOURISM & Transport Forum (TTF) is urging Australia to overhaul its bordering processing systems to make air travel faster, simpler and more efficient, starting with the Trans-Tasman border.
“Without urgent action, Australia risks falling behind the rest of the world,” TTF CEO Margy Osmond warned. “Passengers who arrive in Australia are still being asked to fill out paper arrival cards with a biro. This should be a thing of the past in our digital age.”
The industry body chief argues that the Trans-Tasman border should be used to trial more efficient entry and screening technologies, given that New Zealand is Australia’s biggest source market for overseas visitors.
“If successful on the Tasman, these reforms could form the basis of similar changes to revolutionise travel from other trusted, high-volume markets,” she explained, calling on Australia and New Zealand to create a joint taskforce to “lead progress on a seamless border”.
“We need a working group established before the end of August and we’d like to see a trial or pilot program in place by the end of the year,” Osmond said, suggesting industry experts and government departments from both countries should make up the taskforce.
Border upgrades recommended by TFF include granting immigration ‘pre-clearance’ at the point of departure and implementing the latest screening technology to significantly lower queue times, while strengthening border security.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for tourists, business travellers and cargo to come to Australia, by ensuring they aren’t facing unnecessary delays on arrival,” Osmond said, flagging facial recognition technology as a promising solution.
“Border formalities could be slashed by linking each passenger’s travel documentation to facial recognition technology. You could identify Trans-Tasman passengers as they pass various points between baggage check-in and boarding their aircraft, without them needing to stop or produce passports, travel documents or even boarding passes,” she explained.
The TTF chief also highlighted the potential for a joint Trans-Tasman visitor visa, which would make it easier for international visitors to travel to both Australia and New Zealand on a single trip, enticing more tourism to the region.