MANILA— The Department of Tourism on Tuesday welcomed proposals for a “COVID-19 passport” that would supposedly indicate if a traveller has been vaccinated for the coronavirus while on cross-border transit.
In a message, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said the DOT, together with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), would look into the proposals.
This came as the country sought to revive the tourism industry, which has been crippled by the pandemic that has kept foreign tourists out for months.
“The Department of Tourism supports initiatives to facilitate international cross border travel with stringent health and safety measures in place,” Romulo-Puyat said.
“The proposals for a ‘COVID-19 passport’ is welcome and will be looked into by the DOT, together with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), as it will involve medical data on the vaccines and diplomatic agreements with other countries.”
She said a “COVID-19 passport” is vital to reviving international travel “as it will restore the trust and confidence of people to travel to other countries once more while assuring receiving countries that their inbound tourists are vaccinated.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, in an executive order, has allowed the Food and Drug Administration to issue emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines and drugs.
Vaccines approved by the countries where they were developed can be used locally after 21 days, down from the current required 6-month verification, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Philippines may start inoculating its citizens with the COVID-19 vaccine around March or April next year.
The government, he said, is looking to build a portfolio of different vaccines, depending on the availability and evaluation of a panel of experts. In the list are those developed by Sinovac, Gamaleya, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, and Johnson & Johnson.