PH passenger arrivals drop 72 pct amid pandemic: Immigration bureau

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 02 2021 12:27 PM | Updated as of Nov 02 2021 12:34 PM

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MANILA – Passenger arrivals in the Philippines went down by as much as 72 percent this year, the Bureau of Immigration said Tuesday.

“Generally po, bumaba po. Very significant po yung binaba ng ating mga arrivals. As big as 72 percent yung binaba po ng arrivals natin as compared to last year,” BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said on TeleRadyo. 

(Generally, arrivals showed a very significant drop, as big as 72 percent compared to last year.)

According to the bureau, 893,886 international travelers arrived in the Philippines during the first nine months of the year, compared to 3.2 million during the same period in 2020.

In a statement over the weekend, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente attributed the low figures to the daily cap on passenger arrivals as well as the imposed travel restrictions.

He noted that before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, some 12.6 million arrivals are already recorded by the 3rd quarter of the year.

“But siguro, we have to consider din po na yung first part of last year, yung first few months of last year, pre-pandemic pa po yun,” Sandoval said.

(But maybe, we have to consider that in the first few months of last year, we weren’t in a pandemic yet.)

According to Morente, there were already 2.8 million arrivals recorded in the early part of last year before the country closed its borders in late March.

Sandoval said she expects arrivals to pick up in the country as more Filipinos come home for the holidays.

Inbound travelers from "green lanes" who have completed their COVID-19 vaccination are no longer required to undergo facility-based quarantine upon arrival in the Philippines.

“Actually, we’re seeing po an increase in the number of balikbayans who are going home dito po sa Pilipinas. Dumadami po yung mga kababayan natin na umuuwi para sa kapaskuhan and for the holiday season. Automatic po yan sa'tin every pagdating ng ber months, unti-unti pong tumataas na yung figures natin,” she said.

(Actually, we’re seeing an increase in the number of Filipinos coming home. There are a number of Filipinos coming home for Christmas and the holidays. That’s almost automatic for us to see an uptick in our arrivals during the ber months.)

“Although ngayon siguro, hindi pa natin makikita yung significantly gaya ng pre-pandemic figures. But we’re expecting po na dadami po kahit papaano yung number po ng mga kababayan natin at yung kanilang mga pamilya po na uuwi dito sa Pilipinas,” she added.

(Although maybe we can’t expect a significant uptick for now, like pre-pandemic figures. But we still expect to see an increase in the number of Filipinos and their families coming home.)

Borders are slowly trying to reopen around the world after they were closed to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Philippines has updated its list of "green" countries where fully vaccinated travelers are no longer required to undergo facility-based quarantine.

Meanwhile, the number of passengers departing abroad also went down by 68 percent from January to September this year, compared to the same period last year.

Morente said some 1.1 million travelers left the country during the first three quarters this year, down from 3.6 million a year ago.
 
“The bulk of these travelers were overseas Filipino workers as well as foreigners who were returning to their home countries,” he said.
 
With the relaxation of travel restrictions following the widening coverage of the COVID-19 vaccination program, the bureau expects the travel industry to soon bounce back, said Morente.

The airline industry was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, with about a third of the employees leaving their jobs as the deadly disease spread throughout the country.

--TeleRadyo, 2 November 2021