TRAVEL agencies have appealed for the restoration of their passport application appointment slots at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office in ASEANA Business Park, Pasay City.
The Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) made the appeal on Tuesday claiming the removal of the travel agencies’ reserved slots by the DFA in July 2016 caused a drop in their income.
“The DFA is correct in stating that with the increase in (passport) applications, it is going to face some serious backlog. The solution is to apportion the responsibility and not to block accredited travel agencies from assisting the government,” said PTAA President Marlene Jante in a press conference.
Jante also said their slot allotment is not large enough to account for the serious backlogs in passport applications.
“If we are still given the same 1,000 slots daily today, that would only be seven percent of the total passports being processed by the DFA,” Jante said.
On January 12, DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano reiterated the temporary removal of 1,200 online passport appointment slots in DFA-ASEANA previously reserved for travel agencies.
Jante said the DFA decision came when tourism was to enter its peak season dealing a major blow to travel agencies by bringing down at least 15 percent of their revenue stream.
Jante said that they are in “full support to the drive of the DFA in weeding out unscrupulous individuals selling bogus appointments for the processing of passports.”
“The PTAA is one with the DFA in discouraging travelers from patronizing these individuals and encourage people to patronize only duly accredited travel agencies in renewing or applying for their passports,” she said.
“But, at the same time, we also want our members operations to continue and expand. We want the travel agencies appointment slots restored,” she added.
Citing Section 6 of the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, Jante said accredited travel agencies are allowed to assist their clients in processing their passport applications.
In January 2012, DFA accredited travel agencies were given 1,000 daily allocated volume of appointments. A few months later, the DFA Office of Consular Affairs accepted applications for renewal and accreditation from travel agencies.
Jante said the partnership worked between the government and private companies.
“We believe the PTAA has been a very good partner of the DFA in providing our countrymen with passports,” she said. rw: wjg