By Seychelles News Agency
In a first step that will lead to Seychelles' airport arrival process going completely digital, the island nation's Ministry of Transport said on Wednesday it has started a trial that will begin the phase-out of paper arrival forms.
The current forms, which are reviewed on arrival by Immigration Officers at the airport, will be gradually replaced by an e-form powered by the existing Seychelles Islands Travel Authorisation platform.
The trial will run from August until new hardware is delivered later this year and then the government plans to completely retire the paper immigration and customs forms for all international arrivals to Seychelles' international airport.
"We're delighted to roll out paperless entry for international arrivals in Seychelles. Not only is this an improvement for travellers to our country but the introduction of a digital system means increased efficiency for front-line immigration officers. By eliminating the painstaking and time consuming manual entry of passenger data by immigration officers, they can dedicate more time to focus on their core responsibility of determining admissibility and securing our borders," said Alain Volcere, principal secretary for immigration and civil status.
This latest step towards a digital airport comes after the online Seychelles Islands Travel Authorisation was introduced to support the safe reopening of borders late last year.
As part of the trial, a portion of passengers from each international flight will be processed by immigration officers using the digital system. The majority of passengers on each flight will continue to present their paper forms on arrival until the full transition has been successfully completed.
To date, three percent of passengers have taken part in the trial and have been successfully processed using Travizory's technology.
As part of this phased approach, new hardware which includes computer monitors and Desko scanners will be provided by Travizory to facilitate the work of the immigration officers. Fifteen new scanners are expected to be delivered by October.
The move to a paperless system is expected to more effectively retain passenger information within border authorities' databases. Information will be digitally recorded, eliminating manual data entry errors, reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission with fewer interactions and improving efficiency. Previously all international arrivals had to fill in a paper disembarkation form.
Alan Renaud, principal secretary for civil aviation, said that "facilitating paperless entry is a target for many airports around the world, so we can be proud that our small nation has achieved such an important milestone so quickly and effectively."
"Visitors to Seychelles and returning residents can now pre-fill their entry forms from the comfort of their hotel room or on-the-go as part of our industry-leading electronic travel authorisation. The beauty of our fully digital system is how simple and seamless travel to Seychelles will now be for both travellers and the immigration and customs authorities who vet them on arrival," he added.
Once the trial is successfully completed, all passengers will be able to pre-submit their customs and immigration information via web form or mobile app for approval by Seychelles authorities before their departure from their country of origin.
The principal secretary for tourism, Sherin Francis, said that having an online system for travel authorisation has been instrumental for the destination in improving the visitor's experience especially when it comes to disembarkation procedures.
"We are now looking forward to seeing the digital system take a step towards the sustainable goals we want to achieve for our destination. Switching to a completely digital system also guarantees a swift, secure and above all contactless experience, meaning Covid secure travel when you travel to or within our islands," said Francis.
With approximately 350 000 visitors coming to Seychelles in an average travel year, the move will be welcomed by environmental campaigners as paper forms are taken out of circulation and waste is reduced.
Renaud Irminger, CEO of Travizory, said that paperless, contactless travel is the future and the "Travizory's technology is helping the Seychelles government to realise its ambitions of becoming truly digital first and this is an important step on that journey. Our state-of-the-art Travel Authorisation system also helps Seychelles Tourism to send a strong signal to visitors that this is a modern and technologically-savvy destination."