Robots in travel clinics: Building on tourism's use of technology and robots for infection control during a pandemic

Bauer, Irmgard L. (2023) Robots in travel clinics: Building on tourism's use of technology and robots for infection control during a pandemic. Tropical Diseases, Travel Medicine and Vaccines, 9. 10.

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The arrival of COVID-19 impacted every aspect of life around the world. The virus, whose spread was facilitated overwhelmingly by people’s close contact at home and by travelling, devastated the tourism, hospitality, and transportation industry. Economic survival depended largely on demonstrating to authorities and potential travellers the strict adherence to infection control measures. Fortunately, long before the pandemic, the industry had already employed digital technology, artificial intelligence, and service robots, not to keep the world safe, but to either bridge staff shortages or save costs, reduce waiting times, streamline administration, complete unattractive, tedious, or physical tasks, or use technology as marketing gimmicks. With COVID-19, offering social distancing and touchless service was an easy step by extending quickly what was already there. The question arose: could travellers’ acceptance of technology and robots for infection control be useful in travel medicine?

COVID-19 fostered the rapid and increased acceptance of touchless technology relating to all things travel. The public’s expectations regarding hygiene, health and safety, and risk of infection have changed and may stay with us long after the pandemic is ‘the new normal’, or a new one approaches. This insight, combined with the current experience with robots in health and medicine, is useful in exploring how robots could assist travel medicine practice. However, several aspects need to be considered in terms of type of robot, tasks required, and the public’s positive or negative attitudes towards robots to avoid known pitfalls. To meet the crucial infection control measures of social distancing and touch avoidance, the use of robots in travel medicine may not only be readily accepted but expected, and implications for management, practice, and research need to be considered.

Item ID: 79635
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2055-0936
Keywords: COVID-19, travel medicine, medical technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, human-robot interaction, automation
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2023. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2023 00:00
FoR Codes: 46 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 4602 Artificial intelligence > 460299 Artificial intelligence not elsewhere classified @ 30%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420603 Health promotion @ 70%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2004 Public health (excl. specific population health) > 200412 Preventive medicine @ 80%
22 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 2204 Information systems, technologies and services > 220407 Human-computer interaction @ 20%
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