Filipinos checking in at at the Manila International Airport NAIA
File photo: Travellers checking in at at the Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Manila: The Philippines has loosened entry restrictions for all fully vaccinated foreign nationals visiting the country starting this month, the Philippines' Bureau of Immigration said on Wednesday.

In an advisory, which was effective immediately and signed by Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, foreign nationals coming from visa-required countries and regions need to secure an "entry exemption document" before visiting the Philippines.

Morente said foreign nationals must also be fully vaccinated, except for children below 12, travelling with their fully vaccinated parents.

The travellers must present proof of vaccination and a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure from the country of origin. Upon arrival, the traveller must also self-monitor for seven days.

The new policy widened the number of travellers allowed to enter the Southeast Asian country famous for its white sand beaches, diving resorts, and century-old heritages.

As a key economic driver, the tourism industry's contribution to the Philippines' gross domestic product stood at 12.7 per cent in 2019, according to the Philippines Statistics Authority. The pandemic has badly hit the tourism sector in the Philippines, forcing hotels and airlines to lay off staff. Almost 1.1 million workers were affected in the tourism industry across the country.

On Monday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that the Philippines is now open to all foreign tourists, adding that Philippines embassies and consulates' resumption of visa issuance will also start on April 1, Xinhua news agency reported.

"This latest development opens the country to all fully vaccinated tourists from all countries, and means the country's tourism industry is well on its way to recovery," Puyat said.

"We have high hopes that all of these will result in an uptick in international travellers visiting the country during the summer season," she added.

On February 10, the Philippines reopened its doors to foreign tourists from 157 countries and regions with the visa-free arrangement after almost two years of pandemic lockdown.

Department of Tourism data showed that as of March 9, nearly 77,000 foreign travellers arrived in the country.