Tolentino: COVID-19 vax for foreign visitors will boost PH tourism

Senator Francis Tolentino on Wednesday said the government should consider giving COVID-19 vaccines to inbound foreign visitors to further boost the Philippine’s local tourism industry that is badly hit by the pandemic.

Tolentino noted that many tourist hotspots across the globe have already taken their tourism recovery one step further by offering foreign visitors an opportunity to get vaccinated against COVID-19 upon arrival in a bid to attract more tourists.

“Kung talagang may mga ina-allow (na pumasok) kahit hindi bakunado lalo na yung mga galing sa ‘red-list’ countries, eh palagay ko dito sa ating NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) dapat na i-require na rin magbigay ng bakuna (If there are really instances that unvaccinated individuals from red listed countries are allowed entry, then I think NAIA personnel should be required to give vaccines),” Tolentino said in an interview with DZRH.

The senator made the proposal as the country is expected to transition towards lighter health restrictions in the coming weeks as the average number of daily COVID-19 infections has significantly lowered.

Tolentino said the one-shot vaccines Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) and Sputnik Light are the best suitable brands to be given for inbound tourists.

Prior to the pandemic, the country’s tourism was a major economic driver, contributing 12.7 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generating 5.7 million new jobs nationwide.

The lawmaker said allowing overseas visitors to have access to COVID-19 vaccines would not only help improve tourism arrivals but also allay fears of another potential surge in cases due to inbound tourists.