The Philippines is now gearing up to welcome foreign tourists back to its famous destinations in the “new normal” as travel restrictions in the country continue to ease, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced on Friday, Nov. 19.
DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the government’s pandemic task force has “approved in principle” their recommendation to allow entry of fully vaccinated tourists from countries under the “green list.”
“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,” Puyat said.
“This move will likewise aid in bolstering consumer confidence, which is a large contributor to our gross domestic product or GDP growth,” she added.
The tourism chief said the proposal to open leisure travel from “green countries,” or those classified by the Department of Health (DOH) as low-risk countries, will be based on strict conditions.
Only fully vaccinated individuals with vaccines recognized by the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or those authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) will be allowed entry to the country.
According to Puyat, the Special Technical Working Group on Travel has been tasked to immediately come up with the guidelines on international travel to be approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Puyat lauded this “welcome development,” adding that other 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,” she said.
The DOT will also be working with the Small Technical Working Group on Travel on its proposed “Vaccinated Travel Lanes or Bubbles” program to allow entry of vaccinated tourists from yellow list countries under certain restrictions and strict conditions.
In preparation for the arrival of international travelers in the new normal, the DOT has been innovating and developing programs and circuits to ensure safe, fun, and sustainable tourism for local and foreign tourists.
The country’s tourism sector was among the hardest hit by the ongoing health crisis due to travel restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
As a key economic driver, the tourism industry’s contribution to the country’s GDP stood at 12.7 percent in 2019, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data.
Despite the global pandemic, the Philippines’ pristine beaches and world-class diving sites continue to stand out after the 28th World Travel Awards recognized the country as this year’s leading beach and diving destination in Asia.