MANILA – The Philippines has raised the tourist visa extension period from two to six months as part of a plan to boost tourist arrivals, immigration officials said Tuesday.
Antonette Mangrobang, spokeswoman of the Bureau of Immigration, told Kyodo News the new policy took effect on Thursday last week.
It is aimed at attracting foreign visitors and also clearing the backlog of applications by tourists at the agency's offices seeking extensions.
She said the Long-Stay Visitors Visa Extension, which costs around 13,000 pesos (around $300), will specifically benefit foreign tourists who come to the Philippines to escape the winter season in their respective countries.
Under the previous policy, foreign tourists, prior to the expiry of a 21-day entry stamp, could apply for a 38-day extension, and then two-month extensions thereafter.
The new visa policy also sees the introduction of a new visa sticker that contains security and tracking features absent in the wet stamps that were previously used by the bureau.
The Philippines is targeting 10 million tourists by 2016, an ambitious goal considering that in 2012, it only received 4.27 million visitors.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez is optimistic of meeting the target, noting the increasing trend of tourist arrivals in the country.
South Korea is the Philippines' largest visitor market, followed by the United States and Japan.
Other key sources of tourists are China, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Britain.