Philippines scrapping of Covid pre-departure tests met with cheer

Tourism stakeholders in the Philippines have lauded the removal of pre-departure RT-PCR Covid test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers to the Philippines, believing it will help hasten the recovery of the tourism sector.

Cyndy Tan Jarabata, CEO and president of Tajara Leisure and Hospitality Group, the “new ‘no test’ travel rule is a great move for the Philippines as the ease of travel will benefit tourism and associated businesses”.

Tourism stakeholders are relieved with the removal of Covid pre-departure tests

She said: “More inbound international flights are expecting to resume, including new routes to connect to more islands – just in time for the summer season from key markets like Japan and Korea, and longhaul from Europe and the US.”

Rajah Travel chairperson and president, Aileen Clemente, was also in favour of the scrapping of the pre-departure test, but she pointed out that necessary health measures needed to be followed, to ensure a balance in both uptick in arrivals and safe travel.

Also exempted from the pre-departure RT-PCR requirements are travellers aged 12 to 17 who have received primary Covid-19 vaccines, and those below 12 years old travelling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians.

Meanwhile, travel insurance for arriving passengers are also no longer required, but is still highly encouraged.

Clemente reiterated the health and safe travel point, and stated that “insurance should be highly encouraged”.

Although she also favoured the scrapping of tests, Amiable Intertours’ president Bernadette de Leon prefers an optional travel insurance with Covid-19 coverage and hospitalisation.

Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism’s (Dot) outgoing tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat stated “the public’s health and safety will remain the DoT’s top priority” even as visiting the Philippines becomes more convenient for tourists.

Per DoT, a total of 517,516 foreign tourists visited the Philippines from February 10 to May 25, 2022, where 104,589 were from the US, 28,474 from South Korea, and 24,337 from Canada. Others on the list are from Australia, the UK and Japan with tourist arrivals at 23,286, 20,846, and 13,373 respectively.

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