Few industries have felt the impact of the pandemic as intensely as the global travel industry. Stephen Twomey, senior market advisor at Enterprise Ireland for MENA, shares his insights on how ground-breaking Irish technologies are behind the recovery of travel businesses in the Middle East and worldwide.
Around the world, Ireland is synonymous with travel. “Our people and technology have played a significant part in building the industry, and now we have focused even more on products and are offering solutions to rebuild and restore confidence,” Twomey says.
The first-ever Duty Free shop was established at Shannon Airport in Ireland in 1947, selling Irish linen, French perfumes, German porcelain and gifts to North America-bound passengers. This model has been replicated across the globe, and Dubai is home to one of the largest airports and duty-free stores in the world.
“We have seen Irish companies pivot to focus on solutions to accelerate the travel industry recovery. Daon, LetsGetChecked, Altada had no track record in travel but have stepped up to really help the industry in a meaningful way with innovative technologies,” he adds.
For instance, “VeriFly,” the mobile health passport from Irish biometric identity assurance specialist Daon, provides international airlines with a “ticket to fly.” The app allows real-time verification of Covid-related credentials, such as health questionnaires and diagnostic lab test results, straight onto the smartphone. This solution has been adopted by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia Airlines, Aer Lingus and Japan Airlines to help make the Covid-19 travel requirements for international travel more convenient.
Customers traveling to participating locations will have the opportunity to test this new solution, which was launched in November 2020. VeriFly removes the burden from organizations to structure agreements for lab results in multiple locations, and users can enjoy countless ways to acquire, verify and assert their credentials — proof of health status, age, enrolment, citizenship, membership and reservations.
Last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic drove medical appointments out of the clinic and into the home, LetsGetChecked reached more than one million patients and grew its revenue more than 1,500 percent y-o-y. Sales at LetsGetChecked grew by over 800 percent this year, with over 1 million of their at-home Covid-19 testing kits being sold. The firm is partnering with 300 corporate customers, including American Airlines, Kayak and the golfing PGA.
Altada uses the power of AI and machine learning with canines to track people with Covid, including early detection in locations with a large number of people, such as airports. These abilities will help drive safety, reassurance and trust and will be key until everyone is vaccinated.
Irish innovation is thriving, particularly across sectors that are thinking and acting digital-first. More and more exciting and innovative start-ups are finding their place in international markets, especially within the MENA region, with Dubai as the hub for intercontinental travel