Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said on Tuesday that the Philippines is ready to allow international travel to fully vaccinated tourists from visa-free countries on Wednesday (February 10).
“For Philippine tourism, these are exciting times. We’ve been prepared since 2020, and now that new COVID cases are declining, the Department of Tourism (DOT) can move forward with our plans and strategies for the full recovery of the Philippine tourism industry. “Those of you who follow happenings in the travel and tourism sector know that we will begin the next chapter in the path to recovery tomorrow, February 10,” the tourism head remarked as she chaired the Kapihan Sa Manila Bay virtual meeting with other major tourism players on Tuesday
The DOT’s request to accept fully vaccinated visitors from the 157 countries with visa-free agreements with the Philippines was recently approved by the IATF-EID. To help the highly wounded industry recover, the task group also eliminated the colour-coded classification system of countries depending on their COVID-19 status.
Allowing international travellers to enter the country is a welcome development that will increase growth in the travel and tourism sector, restore lost jobs, and generate much-needed revenue for tourism-related enterprises and communities. Other benefits are felt throughout the tourism value chain.
Fully vaccinated locals and foreign tourists are exempt from the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) 5,000-passenger arrivals cap and its One-Stop-Shop program, according to the tourism chief (OSS).
Meanwhile, as of February 7, the DOT-National Capital Region (DOT-NCR) reported a 68 per cent occupancy rate, or 37,348 rooms, in Quarantine facilities, which include 418 hotels with a total of 55,150 rooms. These hotels cater to unvaccinated tourists who have completed their quarantine, long-stay guests, OFWs preparing to leave, and BPO staff.
Seventy-six quarantine hotels have signed a letter of intent to convert to ordinary hotels and cater to leisure travellers.
As of February 4, 92.51 per cent of tourist workers, or 317, 892 out of 349-534, have had COVID-19 vaccinations. According to Puyat, Aurora, Baguio City, San Vicente, Puerto Princesa City, Camiguin Island, Palawan towns Coron, and El Nido have a 100% immunization rate among their tourism workers. According to Puyat, the DOT offices are also assisting in distributing booster shots to qualifying tourism workers.
The NCR has the highest coverage for tourist workers, with 99.91 per cent.
Puyat also announced that she would join members of the IATF-EID at the launch of the Resbakuna KIDS Boracay Island on February 11