The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reiterated that international travel for Filipino tourists is still restricted as the country continues to battle coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente released the statement after he received a report that six Filipino travelers were recently stopped from flying to Cambodia through a special chartered flight from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
According to reports, the passengers were barred since their travel abroad was considered non-essential. Their flight was not also under the category of travelers exempted from the travel ban while the whole country remains under community quarantine.
“We want to emphasize and reiterate that Filipinos are still prohibited from leaving the country unless they are overseas Filipino workers, holders of study visas, or permanent residents in the country of their destination,” the BI chief said.
Morente appealed to the public for understanding, adding that the Bureau of Immigration would continue to impose existing international travel restrictions until the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) eases these measures.
BI port operations acting chief Grifton Medina said the six passengers were offloaded from their flight last June 29. They said they would attend a business meeting on shrimp farming at Phnom Penh.
Reports said several incidents of Filipino tourists were barred from flying at the NAIA since the government implemented international travel restrictions when the pandemic started three months ago.
Medina appealed to Filipinos wanting leisure trips or visit their relatives to be patient and wait for IATF to lift the restrictions on international travel.
“These travel restrictions are only temporary, and we should always bear in mind that the government implemented these measures to protect our countrymen against this deadly coronavirus,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism conducted a survey that showed 77% of Filipinos would be willing to travel locally once the quarantine restrictions were lifted post-pandemic.
DOT released the survey results in their report called “Philippine Travel Survey: Insights on Filipino Travel Behavior Post-COVID 19” in a webinar.
The agency surveyed 12,000 respondents in the country, and results showed Filipinos like to go to places near their homes.
The survey also showed Boracay, Siargao, and Baguio as the top tourist destinations once travel is allowed.