(MNS Photo)

MANILA, Feb 5 (Mabuhay) — Foreign nationals traveling for business or tourism purposes may enter the Philippines without visas starting February 10 if they satisfy certain conditions, Malacañang said on Friday.

In a press briefing, acting presidential spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the foreign travelers may be allowed to enter the country visa-free if they are former Filipino citizens with Balikbayan privilege under Balikbayan Program law, including their spouse and children who are not balikbayans and are traveling with them, provided they are not restricted nationals.

Nograles said foreign nationals of countries entitled to a stay not exceeding 30 days as per Executive Order 408, S. 1960 shall also be allowed visa-free entry to the Philippines, including some of its top tourist markets such as South Korea, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany.

The list of other countries can be found on this link: https://dfa.gov.ph/list-of-countries-for-21-day-visa.

Other requirements, as stated under the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution 160-B, include:

-full vaccination against Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) and is in possession of an acceptable proof of vaccination, except only for minors below 12 years of age traveling with their fully-vaccinated foreign parent/s;

-a negative RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) Covid-19 test taken within 48 hours prior to the date and time of departure from the country of origin/first port of embarkation in a continuous travel to the Philippines, excluding layovers; provided, that, he/she has not left the airport premises or has not been admitted into another country during such lay-over;

-valid tickets for their return journey to the port of origin or next port of destination not later than 30 days from date of arrival in the Philippines;

-passports valid for a period of at least six months at the time of their arrival in the Philippines;

-travel insurance for Covid-19 treatment costs from reputable insurers, with a minimum coverage of USD35,000 (around PHP1.7 million) for the duration of their stay in the Philippines (obtained before arrival).

“Visa-free foreign nationals who fail to fully comply with the conditions and requisites shall be denied admission into the country and shall be subject to the appropriate exclusion proceedings,” Nograles said.

He added that once admitted, the foreign nationals are no longer required to observe facility-based quarantine but shall self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms for seven days.

He, however, said they are required to report to the local government unit of their destination should they manifest any symptoms.

Meanwhile, foreign nationals from visa-required countries or restricted foreign nationals may enter the Philippines through an entry exemption document (EED).

Nograles said these foreign nationals must be fully-vaccinated, except for children below 12 years old who are traveling with their fully-vaccinated parents.

He said they must also carry an acceptable proof of vaccination and present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to their departure.

Tourism recovery seen

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) hopes that the number of tourists in the country will see a gradual increase with the reopening of borders.

In a statement, Commissioner Jaime Morente said he is looking at a steady increase in the number of tourists after almost two years of restrictions due to the pandemic.

Based on the data of the Bureau’s Airport Operations Division, it recorded a massive drop of arrivals in 2021, as compared to the year 2020.

“Last year we saw only 1.4 million arrivals, which is significantly lower than the 3.6 million in 2020. The numbers were dismal because pre-pandemic we were hitting 16.9 million arrivals,” Morente said.

The BI also reported that tourist extension applications dropped 53 percent in 2021.

The BI’s Tourist Visa Section (TVS) only processed a total of 111,781 applications for extension of stay of tourists, which was 53 percent lower than the 240,276 similar applications the office received in 2020.

“We remain optimistic that 2022 will be a better year for international travel, especially now that we will reopen our borders. Hopefully, little by little, international tourism regains momentum,” Morente said. (MNS)

READ NEXT: 8,564 new COVID-19 cases bring active tally to 151K