By Irma Isip
Members of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) yesterday said they will expect the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide them access to its mobile passport processing service after it removed their 500-daily quota at its Aseana office in Pasay City.
PTAA president Marlene Dado Jante said losing the 500-daily quota guaranteed toassociation members, even temporarily, is a big blow to travel agencies’ operational viability.
“It is a fact that 15 percent of the revenue stream of some of our members comes from their passport processing services. This will impact travel agencies operations,” Jante said.
She added: “Even with this, we will remain a strong partner of the government in its promotion and development of the country’s tourism industry. We will abide by this decision of the DFA as it tries to improve on its passport processing system which they have described to us as having reached crisis level.”
However, to soften the financial blow on PTAA members, Jante is requesting the DFA to grant them once-a-week access to its mobile passport service which will be rolled out in October within Metro Manila.
“We have told the DFA that our office in Mandaluyong City can host the mobile service every Saturday and process all applications there that were coursed through our members,” Jante said.
According to Jante, they can coordinate with the citygovernment of Mandaluyong to ensure that they can accommodate the most number of individuals who are looking to renew their passports.
Having the DFA mobile service will help the travel agencies stay afloat until such time that their daily quota is restored or even increased, she noted.
“There is a promise that they made to us that they will assess again the situation by December. But by that time, it is already the peak season of travel and our members would have lost a lot financially,” Jante said.
Still, Jante said they will continue to work closely with the DFA and support the review of its facilities, manpower and protocols during this time.
Earlier in the week, DFA Office of Consular Affairs acting director RicarteAbejuela III sent a letter to the PTAA informing the associationthat the agency removed their online appointment slots for passport processing.
In the letter, the DFA is now requiring all travel agency applicants to go through the same process, including application through online appointment processing, payment, encoding and claiming of passports.
The DFA has also prohibited travel agency staff including liaison officers from entering its consular premises to accompany or assist clients.
Under the implementing rules and regulations of the Passport Act of 1996, travel agencies are legally allowed to process passport applications and ensure that all documents submitted are true, correct, genuine and authentic.
Courtesy of Malaya Business Insight