The Department of Tourism (DOT) hopes that by April of this year, the Philippines will have fully reopened its doors to more foreign tourists. So far, only fully vaccinated foreign leisure travelers from visa-free countries are currently permitted to enter the country.
"Right now, the Philippines is only open to 157 visa-free nations, but we hope to open it to all foreigners by April," according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
She stated that the recommendation to limit leisure travelers for visa-free countries, which began on February 10, came from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
DOT said they started with the 157 visa-free countries first-hand as DFA requested gradual flow of Toursits as they get ready to open the consular services all over the world. They hope to get its approval so they will be able to accept more tourists by April.
From February 10 to March 8 alone, the Philippines recorded 73,178 foreign tourists and Balikbayans, demonstrating international travelers' eagerness to visit Filipino destinations despite the country's nearly two-year closure.
According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), 45 percent of the figures are Balikbayans, while 55 percent are foreign tourists, with the majority countries coming from the United States, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, Vietnam, Germany and Japan.
"It's not big compared to pre-pandemic levels because pre-pandemic levels, we had about 8.28 million tourist arrivals for the entire year," said Tourism Secretary Puyat.
These figures, according to the official, are not high in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, but they are pleased with the unexpected turn of events because projections indicate that arrivals will increase in June or during the winter months.