MANILA, Dec 10 (Mabuhay) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is backing a proposal to require international air travelers to indicate their inoculation and virus infection history through a so-called “COVID-19 passport.”

The idea of a “global COVID-19 passport” – which will indicate if a person is already vaccinated – was floated by Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Gokongwei, saying it is essential in reviving tourism and the airline industry.

“The Department of Tourism supports the suggestion of Mr. Lance Gokongwei to come up with a global COVID-19 passport to facilitate international cross-border travel with stringent health and safety measures in place,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a virtual briefing on Wednesday.

“The DOT recognizes that 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,” Puyat said.

As many countries race for a COVID-19 vaccine, a 90-year-old grandmother became the first in the world to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot outside of a trial as Britain began vaccinating its population.

In the Philippines, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said vaccination for COVID-19 could start within the first half of 2021.

Unless a vaccine is widely available, Puyat said international travel will most likely be restricted to select zones or countries that have little to no cases.

For his part, Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon said, “What is clear is we would want travel to be safer, convenient. We will explore all possible ways in making it easier for the traveling public.”(MNS)

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