DOT eyeing digital travel pass

(The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) may adopt the use of an international travel pass to regulate the entry of foreign visitors once borders are reopened to flights from abroad.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat yesterday said the DOT is looking at employing the digital pass developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in processing visitor arrivals in the new normal.

Puyat said adopting the IATA system would mirror the move made by countries that reopened to foreign tourists in spite of the risks posed by the pandemic.

In a meeting with the IATA and tourism stakeholders, Puyat raised the need for the Philippines to take up new solutions in enticing foreign nationals to visit the country. She said the health and safety of both passengers and hosts must be put first in the government’s decision to reopen tourist attractions.

“The DOT recognizes the challenges that the country is currently facing due to the pandemic. The agency’s work is centered on the gradual and careful reopening of tourism destinations to support livelihoods, with health and safety as our top priority,” Puyat said.

“The IATA Travel Pass, which offers safe and convenient travel, has so far been helpful to airlines that have adopted it for trial,” she said.

The IATA digital pass allows passengers to create an online passport wherein they can declare their vaccination and tests, and file requirements with regulatory authorities.

Likewise, it provides travelers with a registry of health requirements demanded by destinations prior to their entry to their borders.

It also keeps a database of laboratories where tourists can take their COVID-19 test. The digital pass authorizes health facilities as well to send test results and even vaccination certificates to travelers who need to present them to authorities.

“Once the country’s adoption of the IATA Travel Pass is put into motion, the DOT hopes to safely reopen our tourist destinations to international visitors and revive the tourism industry as a whole. But this will be done only when the time is right,” Puyat said.

Puyat is asking for the approval of the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to reopen the gateways to vaccinated foreign visitors to give tourism an opportunity to recover from last year’s plunge.

In 2020, visitor arrivals in the Philippines declined by more than 82 percent to 1.48 million, from 8.26 million in 2019.

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