THE Department of Tourism (DoT) is expecting a steady increase in tourist arrivals in the next few weeks in response to the Philippines’ decision to open its borders further.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement that the DoT said the impact will start to be reflected in the visitor numbers after a lag to put together travel plans in response to the opening.

“We at the DoT are glad that we are gradually reopening our borders to foreign visitors. But this enthusiasm is tempered by the constant reminder that the virus is still very much a threat and that we must always be vigilant so as not to negate the efforts we have made over the past two years to contain the virus,” Ms. Puyat said.

The government removed the requirement to quarantine in designated facilities for fully-vaccinated returning Filipinos and foreigners. Individuals are now required to present only a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test taken within 48 hours prior to the date and time of departure from the country of origin.

Under the new quarantine rules, the Philippines began accepting fully-vaccinated foreigners holding nationality of countries that are not required to obtain visas to enter the Philippines on Feb. 10. Fully-vaccinated returning Filipinos were allowed entry under quarantine-free conditions since Feb. 1.

Ms. Puyat urged the travel industry to follow health and safety protocols when handling guests.

“As we welcome our fully-vaccinated visitors to our country, we need to be assured that proper health and safety protocols are strictly enforced in our airports in order to provide a hassle-free entry for travelers,” Ms. Puyat said. – Revin Mikhael D. Ochave