DOT backs vaccine passport for tourism recovery

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is supporting the proposed vaccine passport for arriving visitors, a concept it believes would help further build travel confidence.

"This is a concept that we are supporting because this will help facilitate cross-border travel," Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon, Jr. said in a virtual presser on Friday. "This has been discussed already in many destinations around the world. Ang tinitignan nalang dito is kung papaano maii-standardize (What we're looking at here is how we can standardize that)."

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Bengzon said the success of this proposal would still depend on the vaccination program and how wide the scale of the inoculation would be.

It would also depend on the willingness of the receiving country to recognize the vaccine passport.

While borders are still closed to international travelers, Bengzon said the agency is currently banking on domestic tourism to keep the industry afloat.

He noted that the country has a huge domestic tourism base, with around 110 million domestic trips recorded in 2019 alone.

The revenue generated from local travel in the same year was also pegged at PHP3.1 trillion.

"Nakikita natin na mas mapapabilis ang recovery ng ating tourism industry as a whole dahil maraming Pilipino ang talagang gusto nang umikot at lumabas ito sa aming study (We could see that this would enable faster recovery for the tourism industry as a whole especially now that more Filipinos wants to travel)," Bengzon said.

Bengzon added that the DOT continues to engage with stakeholders and local government units for the strict implementation of travel protocols, especially for reopened destinations.

"The instruction of Secretary Bernadette (Romulo-Puyat) is to ensure that all the health and safety protocols are in place so when the destinations have reopened we're certain that tourists are safe as well as the tourism front-liners and the host community," he said. (PNA)

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