Philippines to allow entry of foreign tourists soon — DOT

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Philippines to allow entry of foreign tourists soon � DOT
This undated file photo shows immigration counters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The STAR / Rudy Santos, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism said the Philippines would welcome international tourists for leisure travels soon.

This development came after Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat announced on Friday that the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) “has approved in principle the entry of fully vaccinated tourists from Green List countries/territories/jurisdictions” upon the request of the agency.

She said the entry of foreign tourists would follow the guidelines that would be finalized and approved by the IATF-EID.

The DOT said a Special Technical Working Group on Travel has been tasked to craft the said guidelines for the final approval of the IATF.

It is composed of representatives from DOT, the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Health, Finance, Trade and Industry, Transportation, Labor and Employment, Public Works and Highways, Bureau of Quarantine, Bureau of Immigration and Board of Investment, according to Department of Justice Undersecretary Jon Paulo Salvahan, the deputy of the Small Working Group on Travel.

The proposed guidelines, according to Puyat, would also be based on strict conditions.

Under this proposal, the country would open leisure travel from the “green countries” classified by the Department of Health as low-risk countries to COVID-19.

Green list

Based on the latest IATF Resolution No. 148-A signed last November 11, the following countries are classified under the “green list” from November 16 until 30:

  • American Samoa
  • Bhutan
  • Chad
  • China (Mainland)
  • Comoros
  • Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
  • Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China)
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Marshall Islands
  • Montserrat
  • Morocco
  • Namibia
  • Niger
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palau
  • Paraguay
  • Rwanda
  • Saint Barthelemy
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Sint Eustatius
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Taiwan
  • Togo
  • Uganda
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

The tourism agency added that only fully vaccinated individuals with vaccines recognized by the country’s Food and Drug Administration under an Emergency Use Authorization or those authorized by the World Health Organization would be allowed entry to the country.

Puyat said the approval of the DOT’s proposal would help the country’s tourism industry get back on its feet.

"Allowing tourists from green countries or territories that have the majority of its population vaccinated and with low infection rate, will greatly help in our recovery efforts--increasing tourist arrivals and receipts among others. This move will likewise aid in bolstering consumer confidence, which is a large contributor to our gross domestic product or GDP growth," Puyat said.

In 2019, the Philippines recorded 8.26 million tourist arrivals, which dropped to just 1.48 million in 2020.

The tourism industry likewise contributed 12.7% to the country’s GDP in 2019 but the DOT noted a 61.2% decrease in 2020 with only 5.4% contribution to the GDP. This is reportedly the lowest in two decades.

“According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (TDGVA) dropped to P973.31 billion last year compared with the P2.51 trillion in 2019.,” the DOT said in June.

Strategies for tourism industry recovery

The DOT, however, then said it is “optimistic that this transient situation will soon be over and that with the collective effort of the private and public sectors, the Philippine tourism industry will emerge bigger, better, and more resilient in the new normal.”

It lodged the following three strategies to overcome the tourism setback which are also stated in its Tourism Response and Recovery Plans: 

  1. Ensure protection of jobs and safety of tourism workers, visitors, and communities
  2. Support the recovery of tourism enterprises
  3. Rebuild confidence and grow demand in the domestic and foreign market

“The pivot towards domestic tourism that led to the gradual reopening of various local sites, the lobbying for the protection of tourism workers through their inoculation, and the marketing of destinations highlighting the safe travel campaign are among the many efforts of the department that aim to facilitate the slow but sure recovery of the tourism industry,” the DOT said. 

“For the next two years, the Philippines will be positioned as a ‘safe, fun, and competitive destination’ rooted in strong partnerships with communities and visitors. This will be achieved by developing and marketing portfolio of products that harness the natural and cultural endowments to benefit the present and future tourism generation,” it added.

Puyat also said the welcome development on looming entry of international travelers to the country also came as neighboring countries have already reopened their borders to international leisure travelers.

“Our ASEAN neighbors like Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia also did the same. We believe that it is also time for us to reopen our borders for inbound tourism as a way towards full recovery,” Puyat said.

The DOT has been proposing the green lane that will facilitate the entry of foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since May in an effort to help the reopening of the economy.

It is also working with the Small Technical Working Group on Travel for another proposal "Vaccinated Travel Lanes or Bubbles" as a special program for vaccinated tourists coming from yellow list countries, who may be able to enter the country under certain restrictions and strict conditions.

As of writing, the IATF resolution classifies all other countries/territories/jurisdictions not listed on the green list and red list as part of the yellow list. So far, only Faroe Islands and The Netherlands are under the red list.

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