Easing of inbound and interzonal travel curbs bode well for PHL tourism industry


IT’S looking to be a Merry Christmas for the tourism industry with government’s latest decision to cut the quarantine period for inbound travelers, and lifting of age restrictions for interzonal travel.

“The reduction of the mandatory quarantine period for inbound travelers is an encouraging development for the country’s tourism industry,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat in a news statement. “This will be a relief to our kababayans this coming holiday season. This means less expenses for them and more time spent with their loved ones,” she added.

Under the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Resolution 142 released on Friday, “Fully vaccinated individuals coming from either ‘Green’ or ‘Yellow’ List countries/territories/jurisdictions, need to undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of their negative RT-PCR testing taken on the fifth day. After which, they shall be required to undergo home quarantine until their 10th day, with the day of arrival being the first day. The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) shall ensure strict symptom monitoring while in the facility. Foreign nationals shall be required to secure their own pre-booked accommodation of at least six days.

Countries on the green and yellow list have been determined to have low and medium risk for Covid-19 infections, respectively. The IATF guidelines only apply, however, to returning Filipinos, overseas Filipino workers, and foreign nationals with valid and existing visas to enter the Philippines.

The United States, which has 4.1 million Filipino-Americans, is on the yellow list. It accounts for the largest source of balikbayan travelers for the Philippines. They must show proof of their vaccination. The Bureau of Immigration will come up with a list of entry requirements.

Tourism Congress of the Philippines President Jose C. Clemente III told the BusinessMirror, “This is a welcome development as balikbayans are now preparing to come home for the holidays and have been hesitant because of the long quarantine period. With the shortening of the quarantine period, more people will be persuaded to spend their Christmas back home.” Earlier, the required quarantine period reached 10 days at a government-accredited facility and four days at home.

Leisure travel restrictions eased

The IATF likewise decided to allow those below 18 and fully vaccinated individuals above 65 years old; fully vaccinated persons with immunodeficiencies, comorbidities, or other health risks, and fully vaccinated pregnant women to travel point-to-point to areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and/or modified GCQ for leisure purposes. These travelers still have to follow strict health and safety protocols and fulfill the requirements of the local government unit of their destination.

“Further easing of travel restrictions will allow more of our fully vaccinated individuals to enjoy interzonal travel, especially families who wish to travel together,” said Romulo Puyat. “Traveling is a way of bonding, and with all the precautions and protocols in place, we can still do it safely together. More importantly, this will encourage more Filipinos to secure their jabs as well.”

She added the lifting of these restrictions will enable more tourism workers and stakeholders “[to] get back the jobs and livelihoods they lost due to the pandemic.”

Travelers are advised to check with the local government unit of their destination to find out the entry requirements—some accept a valid vaccination while others still require a negative  RT-PCR test.

Over $8 billion (P400 billion) in tourism receipts were estimated to have been lost in 2020, due to the sudden fall in tourist arrivals as Covid-19 travel restrictions went into effect.

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