More than 21,000 foreign travelers visit Philippines: DOT

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2022 08:12 AM

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MANILA – More than 21,000 fully vaccinated foreign travelers have arrived in the Philippines since the country opened its doors to them earlier this month, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Monday.

“As of Feb. 19, the 10th day since we opened the Philippines, we’ve had about 21, 974 tourist arrivals,” Puyat said on TeleRadyo’s “Sakto.”

“Number 1 galing sa US, pangalawa Canada, no. 3 from the United Kingdom, at pang-apat, South Korea. Meron din tayo from Australia, Vietnam, and Japan.”

“The list is long pero yun yung mga top natin,” she said.

The official said she was pleasantly surprised to see so many travelers coming to the Philippines as soon as the country’s borders were opened.

“Actually hindi ko nga expected na may dadating this early kasi when, nung nag-announce na magbubukas ang Pilipinas nung Feb. 10, sabi ng mga tour operators, ng mga hotel, ng mga travel agencies, na malamang dadating pa yan kunyari, magfa-file pa kasi ng leave eh.”

“Or kunyari darating pa yan summer break ng mga anak nila or winter season nila. So I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. 

Puyat said most of the travelers came to be reunited with their families. 

“Marami na sila dumadating but mostly to be reunited with the families yung no. 1, no. 2 nung natanong is to be reunited with their fiancées--so love, kaya sila pumunta dito.”

“Talagang Feb. 10 dumating na, at may mga dumating rin from the US at mga ibang mga dayuhan, pumunta dito para daw tumulong sa typhoon Odette victims. So talagang, hinintay lang talaga nilang magbukas ang Pilipinas para makarating dito.”

The official also noted that a number of balikbayans have now returned to the Philippines.

“Out of pala the 21,974 tourist arrivals, 45 percent ay mga balikbayans. So talagang hinintay lang talaga nila na zero quarantine para agad-agad makapunta na dito.”

The Philippines started granting entry to leisure travelers vaccinated against COVID-19, in an effort to boost a tourism sector decimated by the pandemic.

Citizens of some 150 countries that have visa-free entry to the Philippines are allowed to enter, the tourism department earlier said.

Popular for its white sand beaches and rich marine life, the Philippines had planned to reopen to foreign tourists in December, but that was scrapped over concerns about the highly transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus.

--TeleRadyo, 21 February 2022