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DFA to issue new guidelines on travel agency accreditation

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Thursday (June 21) said it will release new guidelines next week that will allow it to further improve the delivery of passport and other consular services to the public.

In a statement, the DFA said the new guidelines, which will also cover the accreditation of travel agencies, are among the measures it has been taking to allow it to more effectively reach out and serve more people, particularly in the provinces.

“We in the Department of Foreign Affairs have been working hard to fulfill our commitment to deliver fast and efficient services to as many of our people as possible,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael E. Seguis said. “The new guidelines we will issue are in line with this commitment.”

According to Seguis, the new guidelines will complement the steps that have been undertaken by the DFA to improve its services such as the transfer of its consular offices to shopping malls in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country.

“Our people can look forward to better services once we transfer our consular offices to their new locations inside shopping malls in the next several months,” Seguis said, adding that these new offices will follow mall-operating hours and will be open from Mondays to Sundays.

Seguis noted the new guidelines that the DFA will issue are the result of a review of the directive on the accreditation of travel agencies in the regions that the DFA issued on May 2.

He said the guidelines also took into account the appeals for reconsideration of the directive made by the Philippine Travel Agency Association, the Philippine IATA Agents Travel Association, the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies and other stakeholders.

In its May 2 directive, the DFA instructed its consular offices nationwide to no longer accredit travel agencies offering passport services effective June 30, 2012 and to remove the special privileges enjoyed by accredited agencies such as guaranteed slots and express processing for their clients.

“The directive was issued simply to ensure that all passport applicants, regardless of their social status, get to experience the same privileges but at no additional cost to them,” Seguis said. “This is our own way of implementing the ”No Wang-Wang’ policy of the President.”

Seguis said that despite the improved services, the DFA has no plans of increasing passport-processing fees, which remain at PhP950 for regular processing and PhP1200 for expedited processing. These, he pointed out, are the only amounts the DFA collects from passport applicants.