Philippines Reopens Borders to Vaccinated Visitors from 157 Countries

Jojo Riñoza and Jeoffrey Maitem
Manila and Cotabato, Philippines
Philippines Reopens Borders to Vaccinated Visitors from 157 Countries Two foreign tourists arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila as the Philippines begins welcoming fully vaccinated international travelers, Feb. 10, 2022.
Philippine Department of Tourism

The Philippines has reopened its borders to visitors from 157 countries who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, government officials announced Thursday, saying the move would help the pandemic-hit tourism sector bounce back after two years in the doldrums.

The Southeast Asian country was to have reopened its frontiers in December but had delayed the moved because of a new public health scare caused by the Omicron variant, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told reporters. The borders are now open to fully vaccinated visitors from 157 countries that have visa-free entry agreements with the Philippines, according to the Department of Tourism

“These are exciting times for Philippine tourism. We have been ready since 2020,” Romulo-Puyat said. 

“With the significant dwindling of new COVID cases, the Department of Tourism can now push forward with our plans and programs for the full recovery of the Philippine tourism industry,” she said. 

The Department of Health recorded 4,575 COVID-19 infections on Thursday, driving the pandemic total to about 3.6 million. The Philippines also recorded 94 deaths, bringing the overall toll to 54,783. 

Romulo-Puyat said tourism should be promoted in other countries after some hotel owners had called for a “financial lifeline” from the government following adjustments in quarantine protocols. 

“I think there are only a few asking for financial assistance because hotel owners themselves told me that they are happy that the country is opening up and quarantine is no longer required,” she said. 

For those planning to visit the Philippines, the government is requiring that travelers, with some exceptions, present the airlines with proof of full vaccination before they embark on flights to the country.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recently passed a resolution that allows children and those who are not vaccinated for medical reasons to be allowed to travel, provided they can show certification from their doctors. Foreign diplomats and their dependents who are qualified visa holders are exempt as well. 

Presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said foreign spouses and children of Filipino citizens from 157 countries returning to the Philippines will no longer be required to carry return tickets, while others will face restrictions on the number of days they can spend in the country. 

“Foreign nationals traveling to the Philippines for business and tourism purposes may enter the Philippines without visas provided they have valid tickets for their return journey to the port of origin or next port of destination not later than 30 days from date of arrival in the Philippines,” Nograles told reporters. 

Economic growth expected 

Karl Kendrick Chua, the socio-economic planning secretary, noted that the overall economy had grown by an average of 6 percent during the four years before the pandemic. While the Philippines initially suffered tremendously because of COVID-19 in 2020, its people managed to learn to live with the crisis. 

Chua has pushed for gradual openings of more sectors of the economy while establishing a set of travel requirement protocols.

“I believe the stage is now set for us to grow and accelerate to 7 to 9 percent in 2022. Despite the setback of the Omicron variant in the first month of this year, we have seen the virus go away fast and we were able to manage the risk and see a more responsive or more open economy in the latter part of January,” he told business executives in Manila on Thursday

“At the same time, job indicators are closer to pre-pandemic levels as we open the economy and manage risk despite the spikes,” he said.


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