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DOT-accredited tourism enterprises surge by 32%

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MORE primary tourism enterprises are expected to sign up for accreditation with the Department of Tourism (DOT) with the agency’s digitization program.

The DOT’s online accreditation system, launched on Tuesday, was meant to speed up the accreditation of tourism enterprises and minimize the documents they need to submit. As of September 15, a total of 10,042 tourism enterprises were accredited nationwide, up 32.36 percent from the same period in 2019. Of total were 8,896 primary tourism enterprises, including 1,532 tourism frontliners, and 1,146 secondary tourism enterprises.

“This system fulfills President Duterte’s call for the streamlining and automation of services in the Ease of Doing Business Act signed in 2018 and the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which directs government offices to expedite delivery of services in view of Covid-19,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat in her opening remarks.

In a Viber message to the BusinessMirror, Assistant Secretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Revenue Generation Ma. Rica C. Bueno, said the new online system, accessible through https://accreditation.tourism.gov.ph, will cut paperwork and documents for submission by “at least 50 percent.” For instance, the accommodation sector’s paperwork is down to three from five, travel and tour agencies are also down to three from six, while tourist transport companies, need only to submit five documents from the previous seven.

“We no longer require a fire and safety certificate,” she added. “The major documentary requirements right now are the mayor’s permit, business permit, the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] permit or the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] registration permit, and for some enterprises we require the comprehensive liability insurance. Before, these documents were all submitted manually, now it’s all online.”

Romulo Puyat said the new system also include contactless transactions, especially under the new normal. For now, she said, due to the pandemic, accreditation with the DOT is free, to encourage more firms to sign up.

Those that should seek DOT accreditation are accommodation establishments, travel and tour agencies, tourist transport operators, tourism frontliners such as tour guides, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) facilities and organizers, health and wellness services, and other tourism-related enterprises like restaurants.

The accreditation of tourism enterprises is mandated under Republic Act 9593 (Tourism Act of 2009), with the DOT supposed to ensure the harmonious implementation of the standards and procedures for the accreditation of tourism enterprises nationwide.  

The accreditation portal is an upgraded version that provides for the creation of business accounts, e-mail verification, real-time application status notification and an upcoming online payment system.

“This is a strong reflection of the DOT’s own advocacy towards e-commerce and contactless transactions as recommended protocols in the new normal. Now more than ever, the digitalization of our accreditation system proves timely as we roll out new health and safety guidelines for the new normal for primary and secondary tourism enterprises,“ underscored Romulo Puyat.

While a user is online, DOT officials said, he can already be informed of the status of his accreditation, and what documents he still needs to submit if any.

“Through the new system, we hope to ease the burden of local businesses, including the MSMEs [micro, small and medium enterprises] that collectively form the backbone of the tourism industry,” the DOT chief asserted.

Tourism stakeholders welcomed the digitization of the accreditation system.

At the launch, Tourism Congress of the Philippines President Jose C. Clemente III said, “This is a big help to the people under the current circumstances where mobility is a problem. It will encourage establishments to accredit as legislation now requires [financial] assistance to go to accredited establishments.”

Meanwhile, as per the DOT, 6,045 hotels, resorts and other accommodation establishments were issued Provisional/Certificates of Authority to Operate during the community quarantine, in compliance with agency guidelines, in preparation for the resumption of tourism activities.

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