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The pandemic lowdown has resulted in a major hit to the global economy. Many industries and businesses affected by the COVID-19 are fighting to gain back lost ground.
This has been particularly true for the travel industry, arguably one of the most impacted during the global health crisis. Beginning in Q2 of this year, airlines and hotels began to see a precipitous fall in revenue. This was largely the result of government restrictions enacted to halt the tide of the pandemic outbreak.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the tourism industry accounts for 10 percent of the world GDP. With the onslaught of the pandemic, the report goes on to note that 50 million industry jobs could be lost worldwide.
Now the question being bantered about among many economic and business experts is “when will the travel industry begin to recover?” And more importantly, “how will it recover?”
Out of the ashes of destruction being leveled on the travel sector by Covid comes a promising sign— the emergence of Blockchain Technology as a viable tool for helping to restore the industry.
Blockchain offers a much-needed ray of hope to a number of key industries impacted by the pandemic downturn. In fact, many big names in travel and technology are exploring blockchain-related solutions that show promise in reigniting the travel industry. Here are a couple of key initiatives that show hope in bringing life back to this once robust space.
Airbnb, the online global vacation rental marketplace, in its recent IPO filing, expressed an interest in emerging technologies. The company states that it believes its future success will be largely predicated on the ability to adopt innovations such as tokenization, cryptocurrency, and blockchain.
It elected to make this move after experiencing a significant decline in business following the COVID-19 disruption in the global travel business. Airbnb was badly hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, with its revenue projected to decrease by 18 percent from what it was the previous year.
Airbnb had already shown interest in emerging technologies and cryptocurrency in 2016 when it acquired seven developers from Changecoin, part of the now-defunct bitcoin tipping platform Changetip. Its recent prospectus highlights new authentication technologies that are being explored including biometrics, distributed ledger and blockchain technologies, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and cloud technologies.
China’s largest Fintech company, Tencent, is teaming up with a blockchain firm, ShareRing, to bring restoration to the travel industry. The plan is to revive the troubled travel industry with a new type of digital document and identity management solution.
This will be achieved by combining ShareRing’s distributed ledger technology with Tencent Cloud’s optical character recognition (OCR) to make traveler identification easier. The OCR converts character into the text to improve the efficiency and accuracy of data entered. Facial recognition can be used to improve identity verification and data management.
This partnership will maximize the use of a ShareRing blockchain-based, self-sovereign identity app that can shield users’ data from third parties. The app can also be used for other purposes including, hotel reservations, car rentals, flights, tour packages, insurance policies.
ShareRing will also enable travelers in Asia to use digital identification via Tencent Cloud services. This will help revive the travel industry in South Asian countries reliant on tourism whose borders have been closed to mitigate Covid’s spread.
Amid the uncertainty of the new pandemic normal, blockchain technology remains poised to help facilitate the recovery of the travel business. From data protection to a better overall travel experience, new solutions appear to be right around the block.