The Philippines’ tourism ministry said on Friday that it has approved a plan to allow foreign tourists who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country soon, following moves by other Southeast Asian countries to ease travel restrictions.
According to the ministry, the coronavirus task force “approved in principle the entry of fully vaccinated tourists” from countries with low COVID-19 cases, but guidelines must still be finalized.
The Philippines, known for its diving and thousands of tropical islands, saw an 83 percent drop in foreign arrivals last year, receiving nearly 1.4 million visitors versus nearly 8.2 million in 2019. Its most important tourism markets are Japan, South Korea, and China.
During the pandemic, it imposed some of Asia’s strictest entry requirements and has been one of the region’s hardest hit countries in terms of cases, deaths, and economic losses. A little more than a quarter of its population has been immunized.
Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, all neighbors, have announced varying degrees of reopening in recent weeks, following progress in vaccinating their local populations.
“Allowing tourists from green countries or territories where the majority of the population is vaccinated and infection rates are low will greatly aid in our recovery efforts,” tourism minister Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.
Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and India are among the countries on the Philippines’ “green” list of approved countries.