Philippines’ Tourism Secretary told Bloomberg that there have been discussions about a potential travel bubble with South Korea as the country prepares to gradually reopen its borders next year.
For now, the biggest obstacle preventing the countries from setting a date to the Travel Bubble opening is the quarantine requirements South Korea still demands from returning travelers.
“We’ve been talking to Korea,” the Tourism Secretary said. “Even if there is no quarantine when coming to the Philippines, going back to Asia is quite strict.”
“[Korean] tourists want [to arrange] chartered flights to Bohol but they are still trying to figure out the quarantine requirements [when returning home],” she added.
The increasing vaccination rates and fewer Covid-19 cases in the Philippines could open the way for these countries to scrap quarantine for citizens from both countries.
Back in September, the Philippines was recording more than 27,000 daily cases. As of today, the country is only reporting over 2,000.
In addition, in Metro Manila, the vaccination levels have now surpassed 88 percent for those aged 12 and above.
If the plan is carried through, this travel Bubble would be the first but not the last for the Philippines in 2022, since the country has shown tale-tale signs of preparing for a major reopening.
Earlier this month, the Southeast nation launched “More Fun Awaits,” a program created by the Department of Tourism (DOT) to promote new products and tourists packages.
According to DOT, fully vaccinated tourists will be taken directly to tourist spots, bypassing hotel quarantines.
“That is why we prioritized the vaccinations of tourism workers so we can start accepting domestic tourists and eventually foreign tourists,” said the tourism Secretary in a separate report.
For now, the agreement with South Korea appears to be the most feasible reopening option.
South Korea is the Philippines’ most important tourism source market. In 2019, it brought in some 2 million visitors, surpassing China and the United States combined.
In recent years, it has led to a major boom in the casino industry in Clark Freeport Zone with South Koreans accounting for over 70% of Clark’s yearly GGR.