BI: Tourist departures still low despite lifted restrictions

The Bureau of Immigration said the number of Filipino tourists leaving for is still low despite lifting restrictions.

BI said that as of October 21, only 95 Filipinos left under a tourist visa, out of the total 1,172 Filipinos who departed.

This contrasts with the 64 that left during the same day last week when only those with essential reasons for travel can depart.

“The number of travelers remain low,” said BI Commissioner Jaime Morente. “It could mean that Filipinos still feel hesitant to travel internationally during the pandemic,” said Morente.

The BI chief added that they expect the numbers to pick up during the holiday season.

Morente noted that arrival restrictions remain in place. “We are monitoring any policy change set by the IATF and the Office of the President, and we are ready to implement these as they may deem fit,” he said.

Currently, only Filipinos, their spouse, and minor children can enter the country holding tourist visas. Restrictions likewise allow foreign children with special needs of Filipinos, foreign parents of minor Filipinos, and foreign parents of Filipino children with special needs to enter the Philippines.

Those eligible to enter must secure an entry visa from Philippine embassies or consulates before their arrival.

Apart from said categories, accredited foreign government and organization officials and their dependents, foreign airline crewmembers, foreign seafarers with 9(c) visas, and foreigners with long-term visas are also allowed.

Guidelines for tourist departures

According to IATF Resolution no. 79, outbound Filipino tourists must present a round trip ticket, health and travel insurance, and a negative antigen result at least 24 hours before departure.

However, according to the ruling, if the destination country requires an RT-PCR test, the same must be presented instead.

Filipinos who will leave for must sign a declaration acknowledging their travel risks, to be provided by airline check-in counters. “After which, passengers will still undergo regular  assessment,” said Morente.

Last week, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had allowed travel agencies and tour operators in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified  to operate.