Digital, contactless and eco-friendly entry on the horizon for international visitors
The Ministry of Transport, in collaboration with the Department of Immigration, Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) and the Department for Information and Communication Technology (DICT), has launched a digital trial at the Seychelles International Airport to support the phasing out of the 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 Authorization platform.
The trial will run from August 2021 until new hardware is delivered later this year, when the Government plans to completely retire the paper immigration and customs forms for all international arrivals to the Seychelles International Airport. As part of the trial, a proportion 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.
The current Immigration database has been in operation for more than 25 years. Historic immigration data stored in the existing system will now be fully integrated with the new platform, facilitated by border security experts Travizory.
To guarantee a smooth transition between the legacy and new system and ensure that there are no gaps in the data, a phased approach to the removal of the paper forms has been put in place. To date, 3% passengers have taken part in the trial and have been successfully processed using Travizory’s technology.
This latest step towards a digital airport comes after the online Seychelles Islands Travel Authorization was introduced to support the safe reopening of borders late last year. The authorization system will be expanded to replace the manual completion of the blue paper forms on the plane ahead of arrival. As part of this phased approach, new hardware, including computer monitors and Desko scanners will be provided by Travizory to facilitate the work of the Immigration Officers. 15 new scanners are expected to be delivered by October 2021.
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.
Alan Renaud, Principal Secretary for Civil Aviation, said:
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 Authorization. The beauty of our fully digital system is how simple and seamless travel to Seychelles will now be for both travelers and the Immigration and Customs Authorities who vet them on arrival.
The move to a paperless system will improve processes and more effectively retain passenger information within border authorities’ databases. Information will be digitally recorded - eliminating manual data entry errors, reducing the risk of COVID transmission with fewer interactions and improving efficiency.
Previously all international arrivals (resident or visitor) had to fill in a paper disembarkation form. The forms, used by both customs and immigration, asked for a variety of individual pieces of information, including flight number, passport information, recent travel history, health information and a customs declaration.
The paperless process will speed up customs and immigration processes and reduce queues as international arrivals will only need to show their unique traveler code, generated via the Seychelles Islands Travel Authorization system and passport to officials. Border officers who will still be able to screen passengers on the ground, can access passengers’ electronic forms by scanning their passport.
Alain Volcere, Principal Secretary for Immigration and Civil Status, said:
We’re delighted to roll out paperless entry for international arrivals in Seychelles. Not only is this an improvement for travelers 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.
As travelers grapple with increasingly complex travel rules, the introduction of a digital pre-approval process also removes some of the guesswork for visitors who will have confidence that they can enter the Seychelles before boarding. Importantly, in the wake of the pandemic, this digital process guarantees a contactless travel experience thus minimizing health risks by limiting interactions on arrival.
Sherin Francis, Principal Secretary for Tourism, said:
Since the beginning of the pandemic, travel requirements and procedures have become lengthier and tedious for visitors. Having an online system for Travel Authorization has been instrumental for the destination in improving the visitor’s experience especially when it comes to disembarkation procedures. Through the system, we have been able to also give passengers the confidence they need to book a holiday by giving them certainty that they have met all entry requirements ahead of travel. 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.
With approximately 350,000 visitors per year to the islands, the move will also be welcomed by environmental campaigners as paper forms are taken out of circulation and waste is reduced.
The Ministry also plans to remove the yellow paper forms for departure by the end of 2021.
Renaud Irminger, Travizory CEO, said:
Paperless, contactless travel is the future and we’re delighted to be part of the Seychelles success story as the Seychelles International Airport retires its paper entry forms. 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.