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Semana Santa travel tips: Book with DOT-accredited hotels, be at Naia early

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TRAVELERS this Semana Santa (Holy Week) are advised to book only with government-accredited tourism enterprises, while those holidaying abroad are encouraged to pay their travel tax online.

This developed as more than 1 million passengers are projected to throng the four terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) from March 24 (Palm Sunday) to 31 (Easter Sunday). This is a 15-percent increase from the 926,755 passengers who flew through the Naia during the similar Holy Week period in 2023, according to the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa).

In a news statement, Miaa General Manager Eric Ines said, “We are prepared for this influx at our terminals, especially as Holy Week coincides with summer, historically a peak season for air travel,” as he noted that, “our domestic operations, in particular, have been consistently surpassing pre-pandemic flight movement and passenger volume.”

He also advised passengers to be at Naia “at least three hours before international departure and two hours before domestic departure.” Some airlines may suggest an earlier check-in time to prevent long lines at the counters. “Travelers with only hand-carry luggage are encouraged to check in online or use the check-in kiosks.”

Guard against travel scams
Separately, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said travelers who need accommodations, tours, transportation, and other tourism-related services “are strongly advised to patronize DOT-accredited tourism enterprises.” A DOT accreditation ensures these enterprises have “complied with the Department’s minimum standards set to ensure quality operation of tourism facilities and services.” A list of accredited tourism establishments are available at https://tinyurl.com/ypjpkvkr.

The DOT likewise advised the public to be on guard against unsolicited messages from anonymous sources and social media accounts that may offer fake bookings in hotels, airline tickets, vacation deals, among others. For general tourism inquiries, travel-related complaints, and other emergencies, tourists may contact the DOT hotline 151-TOUR (151-8687), mobile no. +63995-835-5155, and the DOT’s social media accounts or web site.

For its part, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) said on its Facebook page that it has service counters at Islands B, C, D, and E at Naia Terminal 3 to collect travel taxes from departing international travelers.

“For added convenience, consider prepaying your travel tax online through our Online Travel Tax Services System (OTTSS) at https://tinyurl.com/ycx6d4uc to streamline your check-in process and save time at the airport.” Departing passengers who are covered by travel tax exemption rules may also apply for their certificates online through Tieza’s website.

Complete eTravel form before arrival
Meanwhile, the Miaa advises returning international travelers to complete their eTravel registration online before arrival, with Philippine passport holders encouraged to use Immigration e-gates upon arrival; this will expedite their processing at the Bureau of Quarantine and Bureau of Immigration.

Arriving travelers taking transport vehicles from Naia are also reminded keep a copy of their dispatch slip if using Miaa-accredited transport services or regular taxis. The slip contains information of the vehicle service they are using and Miaa hotlines which they contact in case of issues with the service. Information regarding public transportation options to and from the airport, including respective pickup and drop-off points, are available through the Miaa’s website and social media accounts.

Ines assured the traveling public of enough manpower, equipment, and optimal working conditions for amenities and key facilities, including critical airport utilities and backup systems, like standby generators.

He reminded carriers to allocate standby aircraft to prevent delays or flight cancellations, adhere to the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, deploy enough sweepers to locate passengers requiring prioritization in immigration queues, open check-in counters earlier and close them on time, and ensure these counters are fully-staffed at all times. Airlines were also advised to set up help desks to quickly respond to passenger concerns.

Image credits: Oscar Espinosa | Dreamstime.com

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