Travelling overseas before the pandemic? For most Filipinos, it probably wasn’t the easiest experience to begin with, what with all the travel requirements. But travelling during the pandemic — that’s another story. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) came up with a possible solution to aid in making pandemic travels a little bit smoother: a COVID-19 passport.
In an official statement, the BI said that it welcomes proposals to have a COVID-19 passport for international travellers. “It will speed up immigration processing at the airports and facilitate the revival of tourism and travel industry in the country,” they said on their official Facebook page.
What’s a COVID-19 passport and how it will simplify international travel during the pandemic?
A COVID-19 passport is basically a document showing that “a traveller was vaccinated and is free of the virus”. At the moment, it seems like it will apply to those entering the Philippines regardless of their purpose of travel. With it, the immigration procedure at Philippine airports for arriving passengers would be faster and easier. Hence, reducing passenger congestion in these travel facilities.
Currently, the procedure involves testing international passengers upon arrival at a Philippine airport. But BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said that this could potentially pose challenges once the country starts accepting more travellers.
“The anticipated influx of more international travelers could result in longer queues and overcrowding in our immigration counters as all of these passengers should be tested at the airport before they are allowed to enter the country,” Morente said.
He also supported a previous statement by Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat saying that it will help revive domestic tourism. The COVID-19 passport is seen to assure potential international visitors that Philippine travels are safe. The added COVID-19 documentation makes sure that all inbound travellers from abroad are COVID-free, effectively controlling foreign transmission of the virus.
“The importance of this proposed COVID-19 passport cannot be underestimated when our country fully reopens its borders to all international travelers,” Morente further emphasised. “We are hopeful that trust and confidence in international travel will be, little by little, renewed.”
All images credited to Kevin Romas.