Bureau of Immigration (File photo)

MANILA - The Bureau of Immigration (BI) estimates a major increase in the number of arrivals in the country by the second quarter of 2022.

Commissioner Jaime Morente said on Saturday the opening of borders to all vaccinated foreign nationals is a huge step towards the recovery of the tourism and international travel sector.

“Further downgrading of our country’s travel restrictions as Covid-19 cases remain low is a welcome development,” he said in a statement.

The BI chief added they expect the first wave of arrivals to be families of Filipinos who were unable to go home due to the travel restrictions.

“This would allow more families and friends who have been separated by the pandemic to reunite,” he added.

Earlier, the BI reported a gradual increase in the number of arriving passengers.

From around 5,000 daily average arrivals, they now report seeing more than 11,000 inbound travelers.

“We are now back to our pre-pandemic visa policies,” said Morente.

“Those coming from countries under Executive Order (EO) No. 408 may enter the country visa-free, while those who are visa-required must secure an entry visa from Philippine posts abroad,” he added.

EO N. 48 lists nationals of countries who may enter the Philippines without a visa for tourism and business purposes for a stay not exceeding 30 days.

On Friday, Malacanang announced that beginning April 1, fully vaccinated foreign nationals may enter the country without the need for an entry exemption document (EED).

The ruling, which was approved during the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF)’s 16th meeting, also listed down other requirements that arriving foreign nationals are required to present.

Fully vaccinated arriving foreign nationals must carry an acceptable proof of vaccination as listed by the IATF, must present a passport valid for at least six months and an outbound ticket, must have a travel and health insurance that covers Covid-19 with a minimum coverage of USD35,000 valid for the duration of their stay in the Philippines, and must present a negative RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test taken within 48 hours or a negative laboratory-based taken within 24 hours before departure from the country of origin in a continuous trip to the Philippines.

The BI also clarified that only those eligible for Balikbayan privileges under Republic Act No. 9174 are exempted from presenting an outbound ticket.

“We are hopeful that this would be the start of the rebound of the tourism sector,” said Morente. (PNA)