DOT proposes ‘green lane’ for COVID-19 vaccinated foreign visitors

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
DOT proposes �green lane� for COVID-19 vaccinated foreign visitors
This undated image shows travelers walking in an airport.
Pixabay / Skitterphoto

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism on Friday proposed setting up a “green lane” that would “facilitate the entry” of foreign travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The agency made the proposal to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases as part of its efforts to spur the recovery of Philippine tourism and the economy.

Through this travel concept, the DOT said fully vaccinated individuals from overseas can visit the country for leisure once quarantine rules are relaxed and amid expanded COVID-19 vaccination globally.

The DOT did not specify when it is eyeing to implement “green lane.”

“The green lane will pave the way for the reopening of our tourist destinations to leisure travelers who are now fully vaccinated. It will give the jobs back to many of our tourism workers and gradually revive the tourism industry under safe conditions,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

The IATF-EID earlier ordered the DOT and several other government agencies to craft protocols for inbound international travel for fully vaccinated visitors.

It formed a Small Working Group (SWG) headed by the DOT and Department of Foreign Affairs to evaluate the proposed green lanes.

The SWG is composed of the Bureau of Quarantine under the Department of Health, the Bureau of Immigration under the Department of Justice, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Transportation, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration under the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Several countries have reopened their tourist destinations to individuals vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We must keep pace with our neighbors and the rest of the world in slowly reopening our tourist destinations. We must be ready for the visitors when the whole world is ready to safely travel again,” Puyat said.

Green lane in neighbor countries

Last year, Philippines’ neighbor country Singapore opened fast lane and reciprocal green lane.

“Fast lane and reciprocal green lane are fundamentally the same, except that different countries term it differently. These lanes refer to mutually agreed upon arrangements that Singapore has established with selected countries or regions to facilitate essential business and official travel,” the description of the lanes on Changi Airport FAQs read.

Through this arrangement, business and official travelers to and from Japan visit under the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) arrangement.

“Business and official travelers need to apply for the Safe Travel Pass with the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for entry into Singapore,” it added.

As of May 21, ICA is allowing short-term essential business and official travel between Singapore and the following counterpart countries:

  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Mainland China

Singapore’s ICA, however, said it has suspended the RGL for visitors from Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and Republic of Korea until further notice amid the rising COVID-19 cases.

In August 2020, Singapore is also in talks for an RGL entry for visitors from another neighbor country, Thailand.

Meanwhile, Puyat last January said she is hopeful inbound international travel will return this year. 

Last year, she also mentioned her agency is mulling the implementation of "travel bubble" or “travel corridors" for the resumption of tourism.

This concept is implemented in countries with zero to low COVID-19 cases.

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