Foreign tourists warned on fake OHP site charging $75

A PRIVATE tourism group is reminding tourists that registering via One Health Pass (OHP) to enter the Philippines is totally free of charge.

In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP)  president Jose C. Clemente III said a number of travel agents expressed concern about a “proxy site” that some of their foreign tourist clients were apparently being directed to after logging into the OHP site (https://www.onehealthpass.com.ph), and charging them $75. “That’s supposed to be free; they don’t have to pay anything,” he advised TCP-member  travel agents, who have been asking him about the charge.

“Personally, I’ve already had five cases,” said Clemente, also president of the pioneering Rajah Tours Philippines, “and we immediately offer to fill up the form for them [clients], or in the case of one client who had already paid the amount, told them to just tell their credit card firm to reverse the charge.” He added that this problem with the OHP site has been happening “since two months ago.”

Officials of the Department of Health and Bureau of Quarantine failed to comment on the matter when this paper raised it with them. Upon checking, however, a reminder immediately comes on screen that “OHP registration is free of charge…” when opening the OHP site.

TCP meets new DOT chief

The TCP head said this was one of the many issues the national tourism group raised with Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco in a meeting last week. Frasco has been meeting with provincial tourism stakeholders and regional officials in Cebu and Clark in Pampanga as part of her “listening tours.”

During their meeting, TCP suggested DOT “also look also at the possibility of improving seaports and opening up sea lanes, so we can do more inter-island travel, cruises, and ferries,” said Clemente.

The group also urged the DOT chief to look into the possibility of foreign travelers just presenting their OHP when they visit other tourist destinations in the country, instead of filling up the local SPass or any of the local government units’ contact-tracing apps. Frasco has already said she is inclined to push for uniform entry protocols among LGUs to ease the traveler experience.

TCP Vice President for Visayas Peter Tay also asked Frasco to look into the possibility of adjusting Boracay’s carrying capacity from the current 6,405 arrivals a day (or 19,215 tourists any given day) “based on the number of rooms in the island instead.” This matter was earlier raised by Boracay groups to the DOT after the island breached its carrying capacity last Holy Week. (See, “Boracay stakeholders seek increase in carrying capacity,” in the BusinessMirror, April 5, 2022.) Boracay is one of the country’s key tourism destinations, with both domestic and foreign arrivals reaching close to 2 million in 2019.

Partnership assured

Created under the Republic Act 9593 (Tourism Act of 2009), the TCP represents DOT-accredited tourism enterprises such as accommodation establishments, travel agents and tour operators, MICE (Meetings Incentives Conventions Exhibitions), and tourist transport operators across the country.

Frasco assured TCP of the agency’s commitment to assist them in their needs, and to work closely with the private sector in crafting tourism-related programs and policies.

“The manner in which I wish to govern as your tourism secretary is to do so with public consultation, knowing how important it is to hear and listen to the concerns of the industry, and knowing that none of these policies can be implemented if they are not tempered with practical application. That’s something that I learned, or had to learn being a Mayor, and that’s something that I intend to bring to the Department,” said Frasco as she thanked the TCP officers for sharing their insights on the status and challenges of the various tourism industries.

Other TCP officers in the meeting were: Alberto Banaag, VP for Luzon; Marissa Nallana, Treasurer; Bob Zozobrado, P.R.O.; Victor Martinez, Trustee; and Orlando Ballesteros, Secretary.