The Canary Islands have, this Friday evening, been announced as the tourist destination selected to receive the very first pilot flight to carry passengers monitored by what is being promoted as “a secure health application” called Hi+Card intended to certify card holders as being “free of Covid-19”.

The Director General of the World Tourism Organization, UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili this afternoon confirmed the decision in a call to the Tourism Minister of the Canary Islands Government, Yaiza Castilla, who thanked him for the “great news” which forms part of a collaboration initiated between both institutions to share and develop measures that support tourism industry recovery in the Canary Islands as a safe destination.

Yaiza Castilla, who has for weeks been promoting the unique opportunities presented by the archipelago during this crisis, has said that “the necessary steps are being taken so that passengers can travel with ease and airlines can, in turn, increase the capacity of their flights, since this application has been configured as a digital health passport, dealing with anticipated needs for the Canary Islands destination, for travellers and for airlines, such as having the peace of mind of [being able to] safely carry their medical data and certify themselves as free of Covid-19.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili pointed out that “in these exceptional times, in which the Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the world economy and threatened our tourism sector, innovation becomes the cornerstone of the recuperation. Trips will no longer be as they were before. Rather, they will become safer and more sustainable, to continue providing benefits to nations and communities. ”

This pioneering flight, the first of its kind in the world, is scheduled to take place in July, and passengers using the application, will carry a unique digital profile on their smartphones, where a Ministry of Health accredited healthcare organisation, will upload medical information. “This is to avoid the possibility of false profiles being created or medical records being manipulated” explained Antonio López de Ávila, co-founder of hi+Card and CEO of TDDS. Users will request these entities to directly store the information, which is encrypted and securely stored, in their official profiles.

UNWTO collaboration with the Canary Islands

The Canary Islands Government Minister for Tourism, Yaiza Castilla, thanked the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation for the important support for her strategy aimed at reopening tourism in the face of the crisis caused by Covid-19.

This latest commitment followed a videoconference meeting with the UNWTO Secretary General to present the project being worked on from the islands, aiming to recover tourism as soon as possible and which involves focusing on the Canary Islands as a test laboratory for processes that could benefit the entire tourism industry value chain, through the creation and verification of new protocols, meant to minimise risk, and help to communicate confidence and a message of health security to tourists.

Zurab Pololikashvili reported that the Organisation’s Digital Innovation and Transformation department is working on a project to reduce risks in the face of the disease, for travellers, through traceability systems and smart technology, with the Canary Islands having been chosen to carry out the very first pilot tests.

Health iCard

hi+Card is one of the solutions that the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is supporting, it is a project that has come directly from the collaboration between global experts in innovation and tech for the travel & tourism industry, and Smart Tourism Destinations innovators,  TDDS, and The Air Institute, who promote and develop scientific research in the field of computer science and artificial intelligence, a project supported by the Spanish government and now by the Government of the Canary Islands all of whom have committed to work together to assist the recovery of tourism in Spain and around the world.

This new initiative, global in scope, is linked to Turisfera the Canary Islands Business Innovation cluster, and has been launched by the Air Institute and Tourism Data Driven Solutions (TDDS) in collaboration with the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)