The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reported a 45-percent drop in the number of applications for tourist visa extension in 2020.
Commissioner Jaime Morente said the BI’s tourist visa section (TVS) processed a total of 240,276 applications for extension of stay of tourists, which is 44.67-percent lower than the 434,251 applications it received in 2019.
Morente said the sharp decline in numbers was expected, considering that entry to the country of aliens remains restricted, following travel bans that were imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic which started in March last year.
“International travel restrictions remain in place even as we anticipate a gradual lifting of these restrictions this year as the vaccines against COVID-19 begin to arrive,” the BI chief said.
Morente said the BI’s collection from visa extension fees amounted to only P1.3 billion last year, which is 40-percent less than the almost P2.2 billion earned in 2019.
Collection from visa extension fees is one of the major sources of revenue for the BI, and has always been considered as indicative of the Philippines’ growing reputation as a major tourist destination in the Southeast Asian region.
“Despite the low numbers for 2020, we remain hopeful that the tourism industry can bounce back this year,” said Morente.
Applications for extension of stay may be filed at the BI main office in Manila or in any of its authorized field offices throughout the country.