THE Department of Tourism (DOT) and the private sector are supporting the adoption of a digital travel pass for foreign tourists arriving and Filipinos leaving the Philippines as a step towards the safe resumption of international travel.
In a news statement, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said, “This move is parallel with the steps undertaken by other countries that have successfully relaxed borders to visitors amid the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The DOT chief met with representatives of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and local tourism industry leaders on Wednesday, where the association presented its IATA Travel Pass, a technology solution for international travelers.
“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,” she said. “Albeit in its testing stage, the IATA Travel Pass, which offers safe and convenient travel, has so far been helpful to airlines that have adopted it for trial,” she added.
The IATA Travel Pass allows passengers to upload the details of their vaccination and other pertinent information that may be needed by the destination country. To prevent the use of fake documents, the IATA proposed that only certified laboratories carry out vaccinations or required tests for travel, in which results will be directly uploaded to the passenger’s Travel Pass.
As of April 4, some 20 airlines and airline groups have adopted the IATA Travel Pass on a trial basis. IATA is the global trade association of passenger and cargo airlines.
In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Tourism Congress of the Philippines President Jose C. Clemente said, “I think it will hasten the restart of travel and tourism, knowing that there is an app that can be used and contains all pertinent information needed to make travel easier for people.”
Asked whether the Travel Pass will allow passengers to bypass the health and safety protocols of destination countries, such as quarantine and testing requirements, Clemente said he was not under that impression. “I think it will still be up to the destination country to decide on the entry of Travel App users.” He noted the Travel Pass can be embedded in an airline’s own app, “so passengers don’t need too many apps on his smartphone.”
The DOT will set up meetings between IATA and the Departments of Transportation, and of Foreign Affairs to further discuss the Travel Pass.
The IATA Travel Pass has four open-sourced and interoperable modules which can be combined to achieve an end-to-end solution:
- A Travel Pass app that will enable passengers to create a digital passport, verify their tests or vaccinations with regulatory authorities, and submit requirements such as test results or vaccination certificates to facilitate travel;
- A registry of health requirements where passengers can get information on travel, testing, and vaccination requirements;
- A registry of testing/vaccination centers which enables passengers to find Covid-19 testing centers and laboratories at their departure or arrival locations; and
- A Lab app that will allow authorized Covid-19 testing centers and laboratories to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers.
“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,” stressed Romulo Puyat.
Founded in 1945, the IATA has 290 member-airlines, which account for 82 percent of the world’s total commercial air traffic. Its members in the Philippines are Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.