The Philippines is reopening for fully vaccinated travelers from one of the 157 countries that do not require a visa to enter the nation, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat announced earlier on Friday.
The decision means that travelers from the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Ireland, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, South Africa, and most European nations will be welcomed back from Feb. 10.
“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,’’ said Puyat.
“We are confident that we will be able to keep pace with our Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) neighbors who have already made similar strides to reopen to foreign tourists.”
Fully vaccinated travelers are only compelled to present a negative COVID-19 before departure but quarantine on arrival will not be needed.
Unvaccinated people, however, will remain banned from entering the archipelago.
Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said it makes no sense to keep international borders close when COVID-19 transmission rates in the Philippines are so high, “maybe even higher” than in the nations where tourists come from.
“Based on those premises we recommended to ease restrictions,” she said.
Given the current epidemiology situation, the Filipino government has determined that the traffic-light system will not be used “for now” to classify countries.
Instead, all inbound travelers, including Filipinos, would be subject to entry criteria based on their vaccination status.
The resumption of the country’s tourist industry has been eagerly awaited for almost two years after the nation decreed a total border closure for foreign arrivals.
“The tourism industry can now recover and it can contribute big to jobs, livelihoods and the country’s economic growth,” presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles told a briefing.