The Philippines is reopening to tourism in February after nearly two years. International visitors fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be granted entry starting February 10, according to an announcement by the country’s government on January 28. The move comes in a bid to boost the flailing tourism sector that has suffered greatly since the onset of the pandemic.
Citizens from over 150 countries that access visa-free entry will be permitted to enter. Some of the nations on the list include the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia, and Italy. “[This] will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and in the reopening of businesses that have earlier shut down,” Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.
Foreign tourists must be fully vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to departure in order to enter. As for Filipino nationals, the government also announced that quarantine requirements for returning citizens will be lifted from February 1.
Filipinos and foreigners who aren’t vaccinated or who are partially vaccinated, as well as those whose status cannot be verified, must take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours of departure. They also need to quarantine at a government facility for five days and then at home for another nine until they have been in the country for 14 days. Children under the age of 12 who can’t be vaccinated follow the accompanying adult’s quarantine.
With over 7,000 islands in the archipelago, the Philippines were set to reopen in December 2021, but the rise of the highly contagious Omicron variant delayed those plans. Tourist arrivals in the Philippines from top markets Japan, South Korea and China dropped 83% to 1.4 million last year.
Other Southeast Asian nations, popular with tourists from around the world, are testing reopening plans as well. Thailand’s “Test & Go” program was paused over Omicron fears, but applications will be accepted from February 1. Last November, Singapore and Malaysia relaxed the border between the two nations.