Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat welcomes the policy
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — In a move aimed at boosting tourism in the country, travelers who have completed their vaccine shots will no longer need to follow the pre-departure Covid-19 test requirement starting at the end of the month of May among inbound travelers.
Malacañang announced the revised policy on Friday, a move expected to reopen and reactivate the country’s tourism sector which was hard hit by large-scale lockdowns and travel restrictions amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Based on Resolution 168 ratified by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), all fully vaccinated and boosted travelers who want to enter the country are exempt from the polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test requirement beginning Monday, May 30.
This will cover foreign nationals and Balikbayans aged 18 and above who have received their respective primary series of Covid-19 vaccines and at least one booster shot.
Also exempt from the swab testing requirement are foreign nationals aged 12 to 17 who have received their primary Covid-19 vaccines, and those aged below 12 and traveling with fully vaccinated or boosted parents or guardians.
All types of vaccination certificates will be accepted regardless of country of origin, the IATF added.
In reaction, tourism secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat welcomed the policy, which was among the Department of Tourism (DoT)’s recommendations to the pandemic task force to further ease the travel requirements and encourage more tourists to visit the country.
“We are glad that the propositions we have worked on have been approved by the IATF and are now up for implementation,” Romulo-Puyat was quoted saying in a news release from her office.
“The DOT sees this development as a win for the local tourism industry as welcoming more tourists in the country will yield more revenues for our MSMEs and restore more jobs and livelihoods in the sector,” the tourism chief added.
“We are optimistic about an uptick in tourist arrivals in the coming weeks following the further easing of entry requirements into the country,” she enthused.
For the whole month of February, about 517,516 foreign tourists arrived in the Philippines, based on government data. Of these, 104,589 travelers came from the United States. They were followed by South Korea (28,474), Canada (24,337), Australia (23,286), the United Kingdom (20,846), and Japan (13,373).