Welcome visitors! PH to reopen for fully vaxed foreign tourists — DOT

Published January 28, 2022, 2:40 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Philippines will start accepting fully-vaccinated foreign leisure travelers from visa-free countries beginning Feb. 10, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

(Photo from Unsplash)

Puyat made the announcement on Friday, Jan. 28, after the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the Department’s proposal to reopen the country’s borders for international travelers.

The tourism chief welcomed the IATF’s decision, adding that this positive development will further help in the revival of the country’s economy and tourism industry amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We, at the DOT, are very thankful to our partners in the IATF for approving our proposal to allow the entry of foreign leisure travelers. The Department sees this as a welcome development that will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and in the reopening of businesses that have earlier shut down during the pandemic,” Puyat said.

“With years of coordination and preparation between national agencies, industry stakeholders, and the various local government units (LGUs) to prepare our destinations for tourism in the new normal, we are confident that we will be able to keep pace with our ASEAN neighbors who have already made similar strides to reopen to foreign tourists,” she added.

The IATF had approved last year the reopening of the country to fully vaccinated tourists from Green List countries and was supposed to have taken effect on Dec. 1, 2021 in time for the holiday season. However, it was temporarily suspended amid the threats of the Omicron variant.

Based on the guidelines of the IATF, qualified leisure travelers will no longer be required to undergo quarantine starting Feb. 10 as long as they are able to present a negative result of an RT-PCR test taken 48 hours before arrival.

According to the IATF, leisure travelers from visa-free countries will be allowed to enter the country provided that their passports are valid for at least six months at the time of arrival, and they possess outbound tickets to their country of origin or next country of destination.

Leisure visitors must also carry proof of vaccination that are recognized by the IATF such as vaccination certificates issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Department of Health’s VaxCertPH.

Meanwhile, the list of countries whose nationals are allowed visa-free entry to the Philippines can be found in this link: https://dfa.gov.ph/list-of-countries-for-21-day-visa

“We are also aware that there is no room for complacency given the unpredictability of the virus. We will closely monitor the situation and ensure that health and safety protocols are strictly implemented in all tourism establishments,” Puyat noted.

In a separate interview over the week, Puyat assured that the country’s tourism workers are already prepared to welcome foreign tourists as many of them are now getting their booster shots.

The Department already started rolling out booster shots for fully vaccinated workers in the tourism industry as an added protection against the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Puyat said at least 55 percent of tourism workers in the National Capital Region have already received their booster shots to be followed by other tourism destinations such as Boracay, Baguio City, and Davao.

As of the end of 2021, data from the DOT showed that a total of 282,780 individuals or 88.38 percent of the country’s initial target population of 325,489 tourism workers from various tourism-related industries have already been inoculated against COVID-19, leaving only 12.17 percent or 38,931 individuals who have yet to receive their first dose.

The DOT said the inoculated workers are from accommodation establishments temporarily operating as isolation/quarantine facilities, regular hotels, tourism enterprises, tourism support services, and community-based tourism organizations.