By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter
THE TOURISM department is set to present a proposal to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for airlines to adopt a platform developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that will enable passengers to digitally manage their travel documents and share their test and vaccination results.
“We will present it to the IATF next week,” Department of Tourism (DoT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told BusinessWorld in a phone message Friday.
The Air Carriers Association of the Philippines (ACAP) supports the proposal because it will help restart international travel, according to its executive director, Roberto C.O. Lim.
“ACAP supports the IATA industry initiative/tool for a standard and harmonized application to simplify international travel requirements,” Mr. Lim said in a phone message.
What is important is that IATA’s platform keeps data under the passenger’s control, he added.
He said testing and vaccination results issued by accredited and “reliable” medical providers will be uploaded by passengers as part of the platform’s security feature.
“The IATA Pass information is kept confidential because the information in the app is supplied by the medical provider who conducted the test/vaccine. No central repository holds information,” Mr. Lim explained.
For domestic travel, he said the DoT has an app called “Travel Philippines” that can be used to check on the entry requirements of local government units (LGUs).
The Travel Philippines app can be linked to the IATA Pass to create a unified digital travel pass, he noted.
Philippine Airlines Spokesperson Cielo C. Villaluna said the use of the IATA Pass will “most definitely” help restore customer confidence in air travel.
“We welcome the IATA travel pass initiative as it will enable travelers to comply and present travel and health document requirements with ease and convenience throughout the travel experience,” Ms. Villaluna said in a phone message.
“We look forward to working with IATA and industry stakeholders towards the eventual integration of the travel pass on our flights. After all, this concept is based on industry standards and IATA’s proven experience in managing information flows around complex travel requirements,” she added.
Philippines AirAsia said it has an ongoing regional integration for all its operation centers following the IATA Pass model.
“Although nothing is final yet, what’s certain is that AirAsia will fully support all measures that will further enhance safety and rebuild confidence in air travel,” Philippines AirAsia Spokesperson Steve F. Dailisan said in a phone message.
“Aside from having a standard set of requirements from the LGUs, there must always be stringent measures in place that will allow industry stakeholders to validate the authenticity of documents such as COVID-19 test results and vaccination certificates submitted by all our guests. This will enable swift coordination among LGUs, transport regulators, airline companies, molecular laboratories and health authorities,” he explained.
On its website, IATA said its platform also enables passengers to find testing centers and laboratories at their departure or arrival locations that can conduct coronavirus tests in accordance with the type of test required for their trips.
According to global travel technology company Amadeus, 91% of travelers are comfortable with digital health passports.
Amadeus’ recent study also found that the appetite for travel remains high, with 41% of travelers saying they plan to book international travel within six weeks of restrictions being lifted.