The Philippines is looking to open its borders to fully vaccinated tourists coming from “green list” countries “soon,” the country’s Department of Tourism announced on Friday, November 19.
“Allowing tourists from green countries or territories that have the majority of its population vaccinated and with low infection rate, will greatly help in our recovery efforts – increasing tourist arrivals and receipts among others,” Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.
“This move will likewise aid in bolstering consumer confidence, which is a large contributor to our gross domestic product or GDP growth,” Romulo- Puyat added.
Only tourists who have received vaccines recognized by the Philippines Food and Drug Administration or authorized by the World Health Organization will be allowed entry into the country.
A Special Technical Working Group on Travel is currently finalizing the guidelines for approval from the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
There are currently 44 countries and territories on the Philippines coronavirus “green list,” including China, Japan and India; however, the United States is not on the list.
Tourism contributed 17.8% of the Philippines’ GDP in 2018, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. The majority of those tourists came from around Asia, with South Korea leading the pack.
Tourism to the Philippines fell more than 80% due to the pandemic.
Overall, Asia’s reopening plan has been cautious.
Thailand has been a leader thanks to its ‘Phuket Sandbox’ pilot program for tourism, and now some other countries in the region – including Cambodia, South Korea and Singapore – are also taking conservative approaches to welcoming back vaccinated tourists from specified countries.
There have been more than 2.8 million confirmed cases and 46,422 deaths from the coronavirus in the Philippines since the start of the pandemic.
Top image: In this photo taken on October 1, 2020, a resident wearing a face mask walks along a beach in Borocay. Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images
CNN’s Isaac Yee contributed reporting.