The revival of the tourism industry draws near as the number of international tourist arrivals hits the 100,000 mark and pandemic restrictions continue to ease in the country.
According to the One Health Pass (OHP) data, as of March 16,
inbound visitor arrivals to the Philippines now reached 102,031, a high note for the country since its closure of borders at the onset of the pandemic last 2020.
Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat shared her satisfaction with the development, reflecting the inevitable revival of the sector.
"We are happy to see the gradual reopening of our borders finally bearing fruit as evidenced by the much higher foreign visitor arrivals. This will help safeguard the industry's revival, providing more jobs and livelihoods to Filipinos in the tourism sector," Puyat explained.
Tourists from the United States of America (USA) remain the top contributor to the total foreign tourist arrivals since the country's reopening of borders on February 10 until March 16 with 22,243; followed by Canada with 4,852; the United Kingdom with 4,386; South Korea with 3,748; Australia with 3,387; Vietnam with 2,656; Germany with 1,976; and Japan with 1,752.
According to the DOT chief, thanks to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) measures, such as suspending the country classification system and relaxing the entry protocols for fully-vaccinated leisure travelers from visa-free countries listed under EO 408, it helped facilitate the influx of tourists visiting the country.
Last week, the DOT announced that the Philippines would finally open to fully vaccinated travelers from all countries and the resumption of visa issuances by Philippine embassies starting April 1 to coincide with this development.
Furthermore, the said move permitted the negative laboratory-based antigen test results taken within 24 hours from departure as an alternate option for arriving passengers.
"Our numbers are still far from pre-pandemic levels, but we are optimistic that this will continue to increase amid the sustained decline in COVID-19 cases in the country and the ongoing efforts of the Philippine government to improve its healthcare capacity," Puyat said.
"On the DOT's part, we shall continue working with the IATF and our partners in the government and the private sector in coming up with measures that will sustain this growth," she added.