Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said Tuesday that the Philippines is ready for the reopening of international travel beginning Thursday (February 10) to fully vaccinated tourists from visa-free countries.
“These are exciting times for Philippine tourism. We have been ready since 2020; with the significant dwindling of new COVID cases, the Department of Tourism (DOT) can now push forward with our plans and programs for the full recovery of the Philippine Tourism industry. Those among you who follow developments in the travel and tourism sector know that tomorrow, February 10, we will begin the next chapter in the road to recovery,” the tourism chief said as she led the Kapihan Sa Manila Bay virtual forum along with other key tourism stakeholders on Tuesday.
This development came after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) recently approved the DOT’s proposal to allow the entry of fully vaccinated tourists coming from the 157 countries that have visa-free arrangements with the Philippines. The task force also scrapped the color-coded classification system of countries based on their COVID-19 status to facilitate the recovery of the heavily impacted industry.
“Allowing the entry of these international travelers is a welcome development that will lead to growth in the travel and tourism sector, the restoration of lost jobs, the generation of much-needed revenue for tourism-related enterprises, tourism communities, and the government, plus many other benefits that will be felt by the entire tourism value chain,” she said.
The tourism chief noted that fully vaccinated Filipino nationals and foreign tourists are exempt from the 5,000-passenger arrivals cap set by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its One-Stop-Shop (OSS).
Meanwhile, according to the DOT- National Capital Region (DOT-NCR), there is 68 percent or 37,348 occupied rooms in Quarantine facilities consisting of 418 hotels operating with 55,150 rooms, as of February 7. These hotels cater to the unvaccinated travelers completing their quarantine period, long staying guests, OFWs ready for departure, and BPO employees.
As many as 76 quarantine hotels have submitted a Letter of Intent to shift to regular hotels and cater to leisure tourists.
“I am excited about the prospects of a healthy rebound in tourism for a good number of reasons: the high vaccination rate among our tourism workers, the public health safeguards and guidelines that have been put in place, and the number of new tourism circuits that have been developed,” she said.
As of February 4, 92. 51 percent or 317, 892 out of 349, 534 tourism workers have received their COVID-19 jabs. She said tourism destinations with 100 percent vaccination rate among its tourism workers include: Baguio City; Aurora; Palawan towns Coron, El Nido and San Vicente ; Puerto Princesa City, and Camiguin island. The DOT offices are also facilitating the roll-out of booster shots for eligible tourism workers, according to Puyat.
On a regional basis, the NCR registered the highest coverage for tourism workers with 99.91 percent.
Puyat also announced that she will also attend the roll-out of the Resbakuna KIDS Boracay Island on Friday (February 11) with members of the IATF-EID.