PH reopening to foreign tourists under 'rigorous study'--Roque

The country’s reopening to foreign tourists amid the persisting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is now under "rigorous study" by the national government.

Boracay, arguably the crown jewel of Philippine tourism (Ramon Kagie/ Unsplash)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had this to say Tuesday, Nov. 9, even as optimism was high from the business sector given the huge drop in daily new COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.

"Hindi po natin kahit kailan pinigilan ang pag-uwi ng mga kapwa Pilipino natin , iyan po ang standing order ng ating Presidente...Ang hindi lang po natin pinapayagan ngayon ay iyong mga dayuhang mga turista na makapasok (Never did we ban the return home of our fellow Filipinos amid the pandemic, that is the standing order of the President...what we are not allowing is the entry of foreign tourists)," Roque said in a virtual press conference.

"Pero alam naman po natin na napakaraming mga Pilipino nakasalalay din sa turismo para sa hanapbuhay. So iyan po ay maigting na pinag-aaralan na dahil marami na rin pong mga bansa ang nagbubukas ng kanilang mga teritoryo para sa turismo (But we know that a lot of Filipinos are depending on tourism for their livelihood. So it's now under rigorous study on top of the fact that many countries are opening their territories to tourism)," he noted.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or simply IATF is the collegial body that lays down the rules and protocols for the movement of people in the country in the middle of the pandemic.

Roque also serves as spokesperson of the IATF, which was formed last year when COVID-19 first emerged in the country.

"So antay na lang po tayo dahil encouraging nga po na mahigit 90 percent na ang bakunado sa Metro Manila, at inaantay lang po natin na makahabol iyong ating mga karatig-probinsiya (So let's just wait for it, since it's encouraging that Metro Manila's vaccination rate is now close to 90 percent, and we're only waiting for the nearby provinces to catch up)," he told the public.

The efficacy of the vaccines is seen as a major factor in the decrease of fresh COVID-19 cases.

"At tingin ko naman po, hindi naman po para ipagkait iyong ganda ng ating bayan sa mga turista kung mayroon nang sapat na protection ang ating mga kababayan (In my view, we would no longer deny tourists the opportunity of seeing our beautiful country once our people get ample protection)," Roque further said.

Last week, the Palace mouthpiece identified Thailand as a country from which the Philippines could learn lessons from as far as reopening to foreign tourists is concerned.