Philippines ready for eventual reopening of borders to foreign tourists

Philippines ready for eventual reopening of borders to foreign tourists
This undated image shows travelers walking in an airport.
Pixabay / Skitterphoto

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration on Monday said they are ready should the national government lift its restrictions on foreign travelers amid the continuing decline in new COVID-19 cases in the country.

“Our frontline officers at the airports are ready and prepared, and we assure the traveling public of uninterrupted service should they decide to travel to the Philippines,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.

The bureau issued this statement after presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Philippines will reopen its borders to international tourists in “due time.”

“We are also looking at the experience of other countries that already opened to international tourism,” Roque said in Filipino in a Laging Handa briefing last week.

Morente noted that the bureau will need to increase its manpower when international travel resumes to normal, but BI already has laid down plans to address this.

BI acting port operations chief Carlos Capulong said they adopted a response mechanism calls to mobilize personnel assigned to other operating units in his division to perform primary inspection and supervisory duties during times of increase in travel volume.

Last week, the bureau reiterated its police prohibiting airport staff from applying vacation leaves from December 1 to Jan. 15, 2022, in anticipation of the influx of passengers.

Capulong also said they are waiting the appointments of 195 new Immigration officers from the Department of Justice, BI’s mother agency. This new batch of officers will be deployed to different ports across the country.

Morente meanwhile stressed: “Should the IATF and the Office of the President see that the country is ready, we will be happy to welcome again foreign tourists to our shores.”

The bureau recorded a 72% drop in arriving passengers in the first three quarters this year, compared with the same period in 2020. Records showed that only 893,886 international travelers arrived in the Philippines from January to September.

In the first nine months of 2020, BI data showed 3.2 million passengers came to the country, with 2.8 million of these arriving before the lockdown was imposed in March. — Kristine Joy Patag

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 5, 2023 - 6:04pm

Find the latest travel and tourism news from around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic. Main image by AFP/Romeo Gacad

June 5, 2023 - 6:04pm

Airlines will fly 4.35 billion passengers this year, close to the 2019 record as the industry bounces back from the Covid pandemic, an industry group said on Monday.

The sector will also be back in the green, with net profits forecast to reach $9.8 billion in 2023, or double previous estimates, boosted by the end of China's Covid restrictions, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The association added that its 2022 losses were half as bad as previously estimated at $3.6 billion.

"Airline financial performance in 2023 is beating expectations," IATA director general Willie Walsh said in a statement during the association's annual general meeting in Istanbul.

"Stronger profitability is supported by several positive developments. China lifted Covid-19 restrictions earlier in the year than anticipated," Walsh said. — AFP

March 8, 2023 - 1:04pm

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific reports its first annual operating profit since 2019 as the airline fights to return to pre-pandemic flight capacity.

"Cathay Pacific has experienced three challenging years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with 2022 very much being a year of two halves," chairman Patrick Healy says in a statement announcing the results.. 

Cathay is still trailing regional rivals such as Singapore Airlines, with Hong Kong's axing of harsh pandemic curbs -- including mandatory hotel quarantine and strict testing requirements -- only beginning in the fall of last year.

The airline operated at one-third of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity in December but expects to reach 70% of that figure by the end of 2023, the company says. — AFP

March 3, 2023 - 3:28pm

German airline giant Lufthansa says Friday it returned to annual profit in 2022 after two years of losses, its fortunes lifted by rebounding demand as economies reopened after COVID-19 shutdowns.

The group reported a net profit of 791 million euros ($839 million) for last year. This compares to a net loss of 2.2 billion euros in 2021 and 6.7 billion euros in 2020.

"Lufthansa is back," says the company's CEO Carsten Spohr. — AFP

March 1, 2023 - 5:58pm

People hoping to take advantage of a Hong Kong scheme to give away half a million free airline tickets face hours-long online queues on Wednesday, as the Asian financial hub bids to woo tourists back.

The city last month launched a campaign to reboot its reputation as "Asia's world city", after years of strict pandemic-related travel restrictions and a crackdown on sometimes violent pro-democracy protests.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong became one of the last places in the world to drop its outdoor mask mandate, which city leader John Lee said was a sign that it was "resuming normalcy". — AFP

February 23, 2023 - 10:36am

Australian airline Qantas says Thursday it bounced back into profit in late 2022, hailing a "huge turnaround" after swallowing massive losses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national carrier posted a second-half profit of Aus$1.43 billion (US$974 million) before tax, after accumulating Aus$7 billion in losses across the previous three years.

Chief executive Alan Joyce says surging demand for flights had boosted the company's fortunes while announcing a plan to buy back Aus$500 million in Qantas shares. — AFP 

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