In a bid to restore the country’s tourism sector and boost the economy, following the Covid19 global pandemic’s impact on both, authorities pushed through with once again allowing fully vaccinated foreign tourists on February 10, as the extension of Alert Level 2 until February 28 allowed for further mobility in the nation.
Previously, officials had intended to reopen the border in December after two full years of closure, but postponed due to the surge in infections brought about by the emergence of the Omicron Covid19 variant.
From upwards of 20,000 cases on a daily basis, however, the nation’s average tally of new infections has gone down to well under 5,000 in the past weeks.
Tourism is among the most severely hit sectors by the pandemic, with Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data noting a dive in national economic revenue of 12.8% in 2019 to 5.4% in 2020 due to travel restrictions.
A total of 157 countries that hold visa-free agreements with the Philippines are now allowed to enter the country for leisure travel purposes, which led to a large influx on the day of reopening.
According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), nearly 400 fully vaccinated foreign travelers eagerly arrived in the country, most of which came from the United States and Thailand.
DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat stated that in preparation for the reopening, the agency had worked on the establishment of 70 domestic tourism circuits that prioritized open spaces, culinary arts, nature-centered destinations, biking, faith-based activities, and agri-tourism.
Foreign travelers are required to submit proof of full inoculation, a negative reverse transcription polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) Covid19 test 48 hours prior to departure from their country of origin, as well as an outbound ticket.
Initially granted to returning Filipinos on February 1, Romulo-Puyat stated that foreign tourists who have met the criteria for entry will no longer need to be placed in quarantine facilities upon arrival.
The Tourism Secretary herself was there at Ninoy Aquino National Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 to welcome the incoming tourists, expressing gleeful surprise at the large number of individuals that arrived, while reminding all to continue adhering to public safety protocols.