Aruba Signs MOU with OK2Roam

Caribbean News…
04 November 2021 6:34am

The Directorate of Public Health in Aruba has signed a binding memorandum of understanding with OK2Roam which will enable travellers coming to Aruba to enter the country without needing to present or upload a PCR test certificate. All they need to do is take a PCR test with one of the government-approved laboratories in the large, international network provided by VFS Global. OK2Roam, which conceived the initiative, is providing a secure data connection between the lab network and Aruba's online ED entry platform. 

When the system is operational, travellers entering Aruba who have taken a test with a qualifying lab will not have to waste time standing in line for their COVID-19 test certificates to be checked or scanned; nor will they have to worry about how to upload it or whether it has been approved. Instead, their negative PCR test result will be instantly and automatically accepted, so they are free to enjoy their holiday sooner. The advantage for the Aruban authorities will be more efficient processing of visitors, which will save time and money, and improved biosecurity. 

When operational, the OK2Roam-VFS Global process will overcome a significant challenge with many current COVID-19 travel protocols, which is that they rely on people carrying test and vaccine certificates. Those certificates need to be checked and many can be faked relatively easily, especially the paper-based versions. This creates a major challenge for many departments of health and border-security forces, as they are responsible for physically inspecting certificates prior to granting access – and, in doing so, they have to manage the trade-off between a rigorous review and swift throughput. With OK2Roam and VFS Global, these problems are eradicated, because travellers give consent for their PCR test results to be fed directly from a trusted laboratory, via OK2Roam's advanced technical platform, to the destination, enabling the traveller to be pre-cleared before arrival.

VFS Global is the world's largest visa outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. It is trusted by 63 governments, including Australia, Canada, China, India, Korea, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK, and most EU and Schengen member states. Early in the pandemic, VFS Global acted swiftly to build a global network of government-approved testing laboratories, in order to provide a comprehensive service for those of its customers who needed to travel during the pandemic. Currently, VFS Global's lab network covers multiple collection points in 271 cities, in 46 countries and growing.

Danguillaume Oduber, Aruba's Minister of Tourism and Public Health, said: "This is a very simple and good idea, which we are delighted to pioneer with OK2Roam and VFS Global. It will help us provide our visitors with a better, more welcoming experience, on arrival in the airport; and, thanks to VFS Global's worldwide presence, it will help us attract more long-haul visitors, who generally stay longer and spend more."

Chris Dix, Head of Business Development, VFS Global, said: "This project with Aruba represents an exciting opportunity for all concerned, since it will provide a crucial proof of concept to support the growth of travel, tourism and trade. Once successfully launched, this concept can be an opportunity for other destinations as well, because we can make secure and genuine COVID-19 test results digitally available and thereby make countries' border operations more efficient and contribute to eliminating the spread of the coronavirus.

David Tarsh, CEO & Co-Founder, OK2Roam concluded: "Aruba has been spectacularly successful in maintaining its tourism industry in the face of the pandemic. I suspect that is partly because the same minister is responsible for Health and Tourism. However, there are other reasons too, including a mindset, which is also shared by VFS Global. Both are eager to keep people travelling in the face of the pandemic. Both have been exceptionally proactive with new initiatives to combat COVID-19; and both have sought to use technology pragmatically, to make travel safer and more convenient."

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