February 15th 12:03
For Release: Immediately
Calls on IATF and Bureau of Immigration to consider the environment under new Travel Rules
Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental. After two years of strict pandemic border control and following recommendation and guidelines established by the Inter Agency Task Force, the Philippines reopened borders for international tourism starting February 10th. Tourists from 154 countries are now able to enter the Philippines and get a 9A tourist visa on arrival, valid for a maximum of 30 days.
Pre-COVID tourism in the Philippines contributed ~13% of the economy and more than seven million Filipinos were employed in the tourism sector. The border reopening is an immense leap forward, and will no doubt create jobs and provide much needed tax money to rebuild the nation after two hard pandemic years.
While a step in the right direction, tragically the new entry rules are only “half baked.” Prior to COVID, foreign tourists could enter the country and after their first thirty days they could extend their tourist visa for a fee. Many did, and with seven thousand amazing islands to explore, many felt thirty days was not enough to scratch the surface. Unfortunately under the new travel rules extension is no longer possible.
A tourist can get thirty days maximum, after which they are required to leave the country. This has a number of unfortunate economic and environmental consequences.
This means some people will not bother going to the Philippines, as they cannot spend their whole holiday here.
This means many visitors will spend less money in the Philippines
This means that fewer jobs are re-created
This means that tourists who want to see more of the Philippines will have to pointlessly fly out to Bangkok, Singapore or another Asian travel hubs, just to fly right back in, which congests airports and is extremely bad for the environment.
This means that the country miss out on significant fees for extending tourist visas
This creates extra work for airport and immigration personnel, who for no good reason have to send people in and out of the country.
The illogical implementation of 30 days maximum does nothing to reduce spread of covid. Tourists must be fully vaccinated and present a negative test on arrival, so there’s no health benefit whatsoever to ejecting them after thirty days. Further, rapidly dropping infection numbers across the nation is proof the vaccination drives as well as natural herd immunity is yielding protection.
Marine Conservation Philippines urgently implore the IATF and the Bureau of Immigration to reconsider and amend the travel guidelines, and to allow fully vaccinated foreigners to extend their stay in the Philippines to support tourism sector rebuild efforts. Further we point out and urge the IATF to not cause pointless environmental damage through creating a damaging need for “border runs.” As we are an island nation, foreigners will have to fly back and forth and each border run will cause environmental damage.
Marine Conservation Philippines is a non-profit NGO established in the Philippines in 2015. Through scientific research the organization empowers coastal communities in the Visayas to establish Marine Protected Areas, to reduce pressure on fish stocks to combat ocean pollution and to plant mangroves.
Mission Statement: Using science to understand how local and global pressures affect marine ecosystems, we empower, engage, and build local and national capacity to reduce and adapt to these pressures, aiming for a sustainable future for the Philippine people and environment.