Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Image Credit: AP

Manila: In a bid to boost tourism, the Philippines’ immigration bureau said it is allowing Indians who are international travellers to enter and stay in the country for two weeks.

Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr said he had issued a memorandum permitting Indians to enter the country without a visa provided they hold valid visa from a European Union-member country or six other countries. The immigrations chief identified these countries as the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and UK.

Prior to the issuance of the memorandum, Indian tourists were required to apply first for entry visa with a Philippine consulate in their port of origin before coming to the country.

“Indian nationals who avail this scheme will be granted an initial stay of 14 days, which may be extended for an additional seven days,” David Jr explained.

However, he pointed out that in no case shall the Indian’s stay exceed 21 days, which is the maximum allowable period that he can stay in the country.

David said the policy change was in line with the government’s campaign to attract more tourists.

The rules provide that aside from having any of the seven mentioned visas, an Indian traveller’s passport must be valid for at least six months and he or she must have a return ticket or an onward ticket to the next country of destination.

Also, the Indian must have no record with the Bureau of Immigrations, National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency and the International Police (Interpol).

Lawyer Ma Antonette Mangrobang, immigrations spokesperson stressed that Indian tourists availing the scheme may enter the country only via the three terminals of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Furthermore, Indian nationals admitted into the Philippines via this scheme cannot apply for conversion of their status to other visa categories,” she said.

The Indian government in January 2011 had allowed visa-free entry privilege to Filipinos.

India’s “Tourist Visa-on Arrival” scheme allows Filipino travellers to stay a maximum of 30 days in the country.