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PTAA Appeals to DFA to Normalize Processing of Passports

Remaining committed and focused on the resurgence of tourism in the country, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) and other organizations such as the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), National Association of Independent Travel Agencies (NAITAS), Pacific Asia Travel Association Philippines Chapter (PATA), Quezon City Travel Agencies Association (QCTAA), Alliance of Laguna Travel & Tour Agencies (ALTTA), Alliance of Travel and Tour Agencies of Pampanga (ATTAP), Batangas Province Travel and Tour Association (BAPTTA), Bohol Association of Tourist Franchise Association (BATFOI), Boracay Island Travel Agency and Tour Operators Association (BITATOA), Bohol Society of Travel Agencies (BSTA), Bataan, Olongapo, Subic Bay Zambales Travel Agencies Association (BOSZTAA), Cavite Travel and Tours Association (CTTA), Independent Travel Agencies and Tour Operators Association, Inc. (ITATOA), Nueva Ecija Association of Tour Operators (NEATOP), Pampanga Agents Travel Society (PATS), Quezon Province Association of Travel and Tours, Inc. (QuePATTA), Region 1 Travel and Tour Association, Inc. (R1TTA), Rizal Travel Agencies Association, Inc. (RTAA), and Tarlac Agencies of Travel and Tour Organizations, Inc. (TATToO) took a significant step forward by seeking the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). “The pandemic has fundamentally shifted the way many businesses function, and the travel industry is no exception. We are doing what we can to stay afloat, adjust to the new normal guidelines and practices, and help out everyone in any way we can.”

The PTAA is now gearing up for the reopening of international travel by further improving its operations in order to guarantee a seamless and hassle-free experience for travelers. Previously, a concern was raised that a few glitches were experienced by Department of Tourism-accredited travel agencies, both in Metro Manila and various provinces. It had been brought to the attention of DFA through a letter addressed to Secretary Teodoro Locsin.

First of which is the Online Passport Application Program. The general feedback on the system is that it is quite difficult to use because it keeps on crashing and consequentially wipes out details that users have previously provided. It has also been a struggle for staff members of travel agencies to secure very limited slots for their clients, as new schedules are only made available after midnight, thus requiring them to stay up late just to get an appointment for passport application.

Recently, the DFA-Office of Consular Affairs (DFA-OCA) has been made aware of a data privacy issue involving its Online Passport Tracker, a platform that allows applicants to view the status of their passport application. The DFA-OCA has taken down the Online Passport Tracker and all its data sources to avoid further data broadcasting. Investigation about the incident is ongoing and the authorities are taking appropriate measures to secure the data that may have been exposed and to prevent similar circumstances from happening again.

Another matter needing attention is the confusion on transaction with different travel affairs.

A courtesy call with the DFA office will be held as a result of the PTAA’s initiative letter, providing another opportunity for the travel and tourism industry to express itself.

 “We are looking forward to a dialogue with Secretary Locsin and other DFA officials so that these concerns can be immediately addressed and we truly appreciate all the support we can get. Our goal is for the travel industry to regain its footing and gather momentum so that we can also help strengthen our country’s economy amidst the situation,” Taylan appeals.

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