The future of international travel? DOT eyes adoption of digital travel pass

Published April 8, 2021, 1:29 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is considering the adoption of a digital travel pass as a requirement for those visiting the Philippines in preparation for the safe resumption of international travel.


Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said this was in line with the steps taken by other countries that have already successfully reopened their borders to visitors amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a meeting with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and local tourism industry leaders, Puyat raised the suggestion to explore the adoption of the IATA travel pass technology solutions for foreigners visiting the Philippines in order to adhere to global travel standards.

“Albeit [still] on 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,” Puyat said.

Puyat said the travel pass offers a global and standardized solution that would enable the validation and authentication of different country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements.

As of April 4, DOT said that over 20 airlines and airline groups have adopted the IATA travel pass on a trial basis.

Developed by the IATA with the trade association for passenger and cargo airlines worldwide, the travel pass has several open-sourced and interoperable modules that can be combined to achieve an end-to-end solution.

These include 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; and a Lab App that will allow authorized COVID-19 testing centers and laboratories to securely send test results or vaccination certificates to passengers.

Through the travel pass, passengers can get information on travel, testing, and vaccination requirements as well as find COVID-19 testing centers and laboratories at their departure or arrival locations.

“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,” the DOT chief noted.

The IATA, founded in 1945, consists of 290 airlines or 82 percent of the world’s total commercial air traffic. Its members from the Philippines are Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.

While the DOT recognized the current challenges that the tourism sector is facing due to the health crisis, Puyat vowed that the agency will continue its efforts toward the safe revival of the industry.

“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 added.