After being separated due to travel bans and border closures during the global pandemic, binational couples cry: ‘Love is not tourism’.
Love is Not Tourism is a global social media campaign dedicated to lobbying to ease travel restrictions for foreigners seeking to reunite with their partners.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente recognizes some of the looming effects of the imposed travel restrictions.
“Travel bans have also had a profound impact on unmarried couples and families. Some were forced to weather the pandemic without their loved ones. We hear you, and we understand your plight,” said Morente.
Supporters of the online petition using the hashtag #LoveIsNotTourism assert that the movement is not about looking for ways to take a holiday; it is about love being regarded as essential in the time of pandemic.
At present, in the Philippines, while the ban on non-essential outbound travel has been lifted, only Filipinos, balikbayans, and foreigners holding valid and existing visas from green and yellow list countries are allowed entry into the Philippines.
BI optimistic in eased travel restrictions soon
However, Morente further advised, however, that while their agency recognizes their cause, the decision will still come from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
“We see your comments in our different channels, and we hear you. However, please bear with us as we implement what the IATF deems necessary. We trust their wisdom in deciding policies, and developing guidelines for safe inbound travel,” Morente added.
Morente also expressed the hope that the Philippines will eventually open international tourism in the near future.
“With aggressive vaccination campaigns ongoing worldwide, we are optimistic that travel restrictions will ease up soon,” he said.
Morente said the Bureau likewise supports the Department of Tourism’s campaign to keep the country’s top-of-mind destination for foreign tourists. “Once the IATF sees that it’s safe, we will be more than glad to welcome you again to our shores,” he stated.