Airline association Iata called on governments to remove “onerous barriers” to free movement at its annual general meeting in Sydney.

Iata director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said: “There are too many barriers to travel, from visa restrictions and government information requirements to the capacity of current facilitation processes to absorb growing numbers of travellers.

“We will not get the maximum social and economic benefits from [passenger] growth if barriers to travel are not addressed.”

Iata has developed an Open Borders Strategy which it claims can help governments “maintain the integrity of national borders while removing inefficiencies”.

It has called on governments to:

Review visa requirements and remove “unnecessary travel restrictions”.

Include travel facilitation as part of bilateral and regional trade negotiations.

Link up registered traveller programmes.

Use Advance Passenger Information (API) more effectively.

It suggests governments include liberalised visa requirements in trade agreements, arguing: “Restrictive visa requirements are non-tariff barriers to trade, yet they are not normally addressed in trade discussions.”

The association also suggests registered traveller programmes are “a key component of risk-based security measures”, but these programmes are “rarely” linked to one another.

Iata further points out: “Airlines spend millions of dollars providing advance passenger information (API) as required by governments.”

It suggests: “Arrival procedures should be streamlined for passengers whose data has been vetted in advance [and] inadmissible passengers should be notified before their journey begins rather than on arrival.”

The World Travel & Tourism Council and Iata agreed to partner on promoting digital identity management and to work on the international harmonisation and interoperability of biometric standards.

WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “Biometric technology is essential for the future of travel.

“It improves processes, reduces time for the traveller and will allow the sector to grow.”

De Juniac said: “The journey through the airport is often a frustrating experience. Passengers have to verify their identity at numerous points.

“Iata’s One iD project is helping the industry rapidly move towards the day when a face, iris or fingerprint will act as a single biometric travel token.”

The value of biometric technology to border security will be among the subjects discussed at the Resilience through Tourism Summit in Jordan later this month.

Resilience Through Tourism Summit, June 26-27, Amman, Jordan