The Philippines reopened its borders to foreign tourists on Thursday (10 February), lifting a two-year ban put in place to keep local cases of Covid-19 under control.
The easing of border restrictions for fully vaccinated foreigners from 157 countries with visa waiver agreements with the Philippines marks the beginning of the “next chapter in the road to recovery,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
This is good news for the Philippine real estate market, as investors can now more easily travel to the country to view their properties.
The Southeast Asian country, popular for its tropical beach resorts, saw visitor arrivals plunge by 82% between 2019 and 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic began.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said tourists now only need to present documents such as proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test result.
The Philippine immigration office expected about 7,000 arrivals on Thursday alone and hoped to see the number rise to 10,000 to 12,000 a day over the next few months.
The Philippines had originally planned to accept incoming foreign travellers from December, but this was postponed due to the rise in coronavirus cases, fuelled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Philippine Airlines welcomed the government’s decision, assuring its passengers of safety on board with air filters and fully vaccinated cabin crew.
Airline spokesman Cielo Villaluna told Kyodo News that the national carrier used to have about 300 flights a day, but that number has been reduced to about 140 a day since the pandemic began.
The Department of Tourism said that more than 349,000 Filipino workers depend on tourism. The Philippines’ main tourist markets are visitors from South Korea, the US, China and Japan.