Adoption of COVID-19 digital travel pass considered by the Philippines

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is considering the adoption of a Covid-19 digital travel pass as a requirement for visitors to adhere to global travel standards as part of preparations for safe resumption of international travel.

“This move is parallel with the steps undertaken by other countries that have successfully relaxed borders to visitors amid the COVID-19 pandemic”, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Wednesday, April 7.

Puyat raised this possibility during a meeting with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and local tourism industry leaders to explore the adoption of the IATA Travel Pass technology solutions for passengers visiting the Philippines.

“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. Albeit 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.

She noted that the Travel Pass developed by IATA, the trade association for passenger and cargo airlines worldwide, offers a global and standardized solution that will enable the validation and authentication of different country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements. As of April 4, over 20 airlines and airline groups have adopted the IATA Travel Pass on a trial basis.

The IATA Travel Pass has four open-sourced and interoperable modules which can be combined to achieve an end-to-end solution. These are:

– 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,” Puyat added.

Founded in 1945, the IATA 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.

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