It’s easy to find a deal on the best hotels, cruises, or vacation packages. But as it becomes increasingly difficult to find trustworthy health information, travel agencies will be the first to go out of business when health concerns rise. “Health insurance is the primary provider of information to travelers. But in the future, travel companies will have to form partnerships with other entities, like hospitals, drug companies or government agencies, to create trust-based platforms. The goal is to have a uniform system of health information available to consumers.”
Safe Travel Pathways (STP) is a decentralized platform where patients and doctors can share, exchange, and securely access health and medical information. STP is powered by the Blockchain on the Ethereum network, which means that the platform can be used to create a trust-based, secure, and decentralized platform to help patients store and access their health and medical information in a convenient and private manner. The platform can help patients and doctors share and exchange information on common clinical conditions, treatments, and diseases, as well as to exchange their medical information with other patient and doctor groups.Safe Travel Pathways (STP), an open platform designed to help merchants create healthy travel experiences, will be launched on a trial basis in Costa Rica in a few weeks, with plans to expand soon after. Terry Suero, a senior board member, said the initiative was a grassroots movement to educate members of the trade so they can become real tourism consultants again. Suero is the founder of Toca Travel, a Buffalo-based travel research and services company specializing in experiential travel.
Although the platform is being developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Suero says it can be expanded to cover a variety of travel-related areas – including food allergies, mobility disabilities, resilience, special needs, etc.
To end the confusion caused by unverified certificates and stamps, STP aims to create a list of travel companies around the world that can work together to minimize the health risks associated with COVID-19 for travelers. The platform acts as a clearing house for safety certificates and identifies credible certificates that meet three criteria: 1) they meet internationally recognized health standards; 2) they have an audit system in place to confirm compliance; and 3) they have an active management system in place. This gives consumers and travel advisors the opportunity to determine for themselves the level of risk they wish to take when traveling abroad, Suero said.
STP uses a rating system of 1 to 5 stars according to its criteria. It acts as a clearinghouse for COVID-19 certificates, accreditations and security seals, allowing users to check which hotel companies are adhering to internationally recognised principles. This allows tour operators to create itineraries based on accredited service providers.
The idea, Suero says, is to separate authentic stamps from those with little credibility. He says he has heard consultants say they are uncomfortable putting their reputations on the line when designing travel. Consultants and service providers, he says, work blind when it comes to COVID security. The PTS is a way to restore confidence in the sector, he said.
According to Suero, the situation is such that there is a great deal of confusion and concern on the market. According to him, the existence of so many verification options on the market creates a false sense of security, but also a very precarious trust situation.
Tim Case, expert on STP standards, said that while it has been a difficult year for the tourism industry, there are now opportunities to change, develop and better prepare for the future. He said this was not the last pandemic we would see and things needed to be done to better prepare the industry to save lives and livelihoods.
According to Case, since many providers offer some form of COVID-19 accreditation, providers who make an effort to be safe may fall into oblivion, making it difficult for consumers to distinguish between a serious effort and a rush job.
The STP platform will be autonomous, with a board of directors, but it will be completely open and free for industry suppliers to showcase who they are and decide whether or not they want to be included. You can even choose to be listed under food allergies, for example, but not under COVID-19. According to Suero, potential revenue models include limited opportunities for landing page and search ads. He stressed that the STP will not become an online travel agency or a company that generates its income from referrals, as this would undermine its position as a stakeholder.
STP is also seeking support from the major certification/accreditation bodies in the form of a number of free certificates to ensure that certain markets have a sufficient number of properly rated suppliers to create secure pathways.
According to Suero, COVID-19 has produced a much more informed consumer, but marketing has taken over from health education. He concluded with these words: We need to treat travelers like adults; we can give them information and then they will make their own decisions.
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