Foreign spouses and children of Filipino citizens will now be allowed to enter the Philippines without presenting an outbound ticket, the Palace said Thursday.
The new policy issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) was announced by acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles.
The country has started to open its borders to fully vaccinated foreigners from non-visa-required countries, the first time since the Philippines went into lockdown in March 2020.
Aside from these people, former Filipino citizens with Balikbayan privileges under Republic Act No. 9174 and their foreign spouses and children are also allowed to enter the Philippines without outbound tickets.
Other foreign nationals who enter the Philippines without a visa must have valid tickets for their return journey to their port of origin or next port of destination within 30 days of their 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 should 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.
The Palace assured the public that health and safety protocols against COVID-19 are in place as the country opens its doors to foreign nationals.
Nograles said these protocols imposed for the reopening of the tourism industry would improve the country’s economic growth and development.
It would also revitalize all other industries dependent on tourism, he added.
“It will provide a cascading effect in different tourism-related industries. But we will be able to ensure it if everybody complies with the minimum health and safety protocols,” Nograles said.
Nograles noted that the public strict compliance and adherence to the government’s set of health and safety protocols will also ensure that the reopening of the tourism industry will not cause a surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.
“But at the same time, we have to ramp up some more our vaccination efforts,” he added.
Nograles reminded the public that the country is only accepting fully vaccinated foreign nationals.
He said inbound foreign nationals must also present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test taken within 48 hours prior to date and time of departure from the country of origin or first port of embarkation in a continuous trip to the Philippines excluding layovers.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it is expecting at least a 30 percent increase in arrivals on the first day of the opening of the country’s borders to foreign tourists.
BI port operations division (POD) chief Carlos Capulong said they are expecting almost 7,000 arrivals as the country started accepting foreign tourists, a significant increase from Feb 9’s 4,816 arrivals.
Most of the expected travelers to the country are Filipinos, while they project around 27 percent will be foreign nationals.
The BI earlier announced the opening of the country to international tourism starting Feb. 10. Fully vaccinated foreign nationals may be allowed entry subject to the presentation of required documents as set by the IATF.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente instructed port personnel to remain vigilant and ensure only eligible aliens will be allowed entry.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Thursday, ensured that airport protocols are strictly enforced for the first tranche of arriving foreign tourists at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.
“As we welcome our fully-vaccinated visitors to our country, we need to be assured that proper health and safety protocols are strictly enforced in our airports in order to provide a hassle-free entry for travelers,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
Among the areas that were monitored were the Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) and Bureau of Immigration (BI) counters at the international arrival area, luggage claim area, as well as the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and DOT counters situated near the luggage claim area and airport exits.
According to data generated by the DOT-National Capital Region (DOT-NCR) from the One Health Pass (OHP) System, a total 398 out of the 11,492 expected arrivals at NAIA Terminals 1 to 3 are classified as tourists.
Most of the visitors came from the USA that tallied 109 and 93 more from Thailand. Other countries with more than 10 arriving tourists at NAIA yesterday were Malaysia, Canada, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and Australia.
Meanwhile, a total of 180 non-OFW travelers are expected to have arrived at the Clark International Airport (CRK) today, aboard flights from five different airlines–Emirates, JeJu Air, Jetstar, Qatar Airways and Scoot.
Puyat said she is optimistic that the number of inbound tourist arrivals will steadily grow in the coming weeks, as tourists usually need time to finalize their travel plans.
Puyat reminded all tourism stakeholders to ensure strict adherence to health and safety protocols when handling guests and to all foreign tourists visiting the Philippines to prepare all travel requirements ahead of time and to follow the minimum health protocols.