Philippines extends visa-free handshake to India, China

THE PHILIPPINE Department of Tourism (DoT), Department of Foreign Affairs and Bureau of Immigration have jointly agreed to expand the validity of an existing visa-free facility from 21 to 30 days for 161 source markets, with additional provisions for China and India.

“With these visa reforms, we will be at par with the entry policies of our neighbors in the region and, for some markets, more liberal,” said DoT secretary Ramon R Jimenez Jr.

“This will definitely help in achieving our target of 10 million foreign visitors by 2016.”

As part of the deal, China nationals travelling on package tours to the Philippines and handled by DoT-accredited tour operators will receive 30-day visa-free stays, while Indian nationals holding valid US, Canada, Japan, Australia, UK, Singapore and Schengen visas will receive 14-day visa-free stays.

Indian visa on arrival facilities have been available to Philippine nationals since January 2011.

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines’ New-Delhi-Manila direct services, which were launched last March but suspended in October, resumed this month at a reduced frequency of three-weekly.

Cebu Pacific is looking to mount new flights between Manila and New Delhi this year, which would plug the shortfall in capacity.

According to the latest figures from DoT, the Philippines received 42,844 Indian visitors in 2011, compared to 34,581 the year before. China arrivals rose 29.71 per cent in 2011 over the previous year.

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