The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is studying the possibility of lifting the travel ban on foreigners as the country gradually reopens its economy.
Only Filipino citizens and their foreign spouses and children and holders of government-issued diplomatic visas and permanent resident visas are allowed to enter the Philippines.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the vice chairman of IATF, said government officials had received letters from Filipinos requesting to ease the travel ban on foreigners.
“With regard to your concern, that is being discussed by the (IATF), and we have a technical working group (TWG) that is studying your concern… We’re just waiting for the recommendations of the technical working group. Like I said, on a case-to-case basis, if it’s for humanitarian reasons, we allow it,” he said.
IATF mulls lifting travel ban on foreigners
In July, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. ordered the DFA’s legal office to find ways to “find all ways to get around” the travel ban so fiances of Filipinos could enter the country and get married.
Nograles also noted that the reopening of tourism to foreigners should be gradual, citing Baguio and Boracay are now open for domestic tourists.
“We are slowly resuming domestic tourism. We need to emphasize that it should be done gradually because LGUs (local government units) have to be prepared,” he stressed.?“We are just making sure that everything is in place; everything is set before we reopen. With regard to international tourism, as I said, let’s start first with domestic and then let’s see, and then we can slowly reopen international tourism. So step by step,” he said.
In 2018, international tourist arrivals to the Philippines rose by 7.7% to 7.1 million visitors.
South Korea remained the country’s top tourism market with a 22.3% share of the total PH tourist arrivals in 2018, with 1,587,959 visitors. China was second with 1,255,258 visitors in the country, followed by the US with 1,034,396, Japan with 631,801, and Australia with 279,821.
The highest number of tourist arrivals in 2018 was recorded in January at 732,506 visitors, while the lowest was in September at 512,240 visitors.