2CF228Y A group of people walking next to coconut trees along the clean White Beach of Boracay Island, Aklan, Visayas, Philippines, at a sunny day.

The Philippines will grant entry to visitors vaccinated against Covid-19 from February 10, its government said on January 28, in an effort to boost a tourism sector decimated by the pandemic.

The archipelago nation of more than 7,000 islands had planned to reopen in December 2021, but that was aborted over concerns about the Omicron variant.

Citizens of 150 countries that have visa-free entry to the Philippines will be allowed to enter. Countries on that list include the UK, Japan, Canada, Australia, Italy and the United States.

“(This) will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and in the reopening of businesses that have earlier shut down,” Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

Puyat also said the government will remove quarantine requirements for returning Filipinos from February 1, and for foreign tourists from February 10, but they must be vaccinated and test negative for Covid-19.

The Philippines, popular for its white sand beaches and rich marine life, joins other Southeast Asian countries in reopening to tourists to boost jobs and help their economies recover.

Thailand paused its “Test & Go” program over fears of the Omicron variant but will be accepting applications again beginning February 1. Singapore and Malaysia relaxed the border between their countries in November as Singapore announced it would pivot toward a “living with Covid” strategy going forward.

Tourist arrivals in the Philippines from top markets Japan, South Korea and China slumped 83% drop to $1.4 million last year.

Boracay beach photo via Alamy