MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) are set to create a technical working group to further improve the country's air and sea ports.

The creation of the group was approved during Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco’s meeting with Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista on August 8, where the former proposed to make existing airports and seaports "more aesthetically pleasing, convenient, and tourist-friendly."

Frasco said the country must now resume pre-pandemic routes and open new ones to minimize the congestion in the major ports.

“While we understand that introducing major infrastructure changes to the existing airports and seaports is something that cannot be done in the short-term, in answer to the call of the President to improve the overall tourist experience, we have identified ways where we can introduce enhancements that do not necessarily entail long-term actions,” she said.

Apart from opening new domestic routes, also proposed are the installation of uniform signage, as well as, the use of lighting, backdrop, and furniture in airports and seaports that reflects the so-called Filipino brand.

Frasco said she wants the travelers to have an experience that is "positive for all senses.”

“Traditionally, the DOT has been involved in the promotion and marketing purely and mostly in ads but this time around, we wanted a tacit manifestation of our brand as the Philippines because this is what the President very clearly said in his SONA (State of the Nation Address), that he wants us to promote the Filipino brand to the world," she said.

"This is something we would like to herald in the Philippines beginning with our pride, and our culture, our heritage, our identity as Filipinos. And that is why the elements of the aesthetic improvements that we wish to introduce are all made in the Philippines and distinctively Filipino.”

In addition, she recommended a one-stop shop for land, air, and sea connectivity and also emphasized the need to enhance barrier-free tourism in the country.

She said the two departments could do this by providing appropriate facilities in gateways and transport hubs for persons with disabilities (PWDs), such as elevators with PWD-friendly features, clearly designated PWD parking slots, and check-in counters with low and recessed or split-level counters that can accommodate persons seated on wheelchairs.

Bautista, meanwhile, welcomed the proposals and vowed to work closely with the DOT.

“I think our experience working with airlines and now working with government will now allow us to solve the problems and the issues and working with the Department of Tourism we can better improve the experience of our tourists. I am very happy we started this conversation and I agree that we need to further discuss the details of the project,” he said.

The DOT is currently looking at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, Davao International Airport, and Cebu City Pier 1 as pilot projects.

The program, to be led by the DOT with the support of the DOTr, will be a partnership between the two departments. (PNA)