THE Department of Tourism (DoT) said it is targeting a recovery in arrivals from South Korea in order to drive the tourism industry’s recovery.

In a statement on Monday, the DoT said it met with the South Korean travel industry and regulators between March 28 and April 1 in a bid to increase visitor traffic from there.

The Philippine delegation included representatives from Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air, Inc., which met their counterparts from Asiana Airlines, Inc. and South Korean low-cost carriers Air Seoul, T’way, Jin Air, Jeju Air, and Fly Gangwon. The delegation also met with the South Korean Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Industry and Energy.

“The Philippines is more than ready to welcome our Korean tourists. Our entry requirements are one of the safest and most relaxed in Asia. It is understandable that some may still be reluctant to travel amid the pandemic but let me reassure you that the Philippine government and tourism industry have instituted measures to keep everyone safe,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said during a meeting with the South Korean travel industry on March 30.  

Ms. Puyat said that 97% of the Philippines’ tourism workers and other stakeholders are vaccinated.

“With the majority of the country’s tourism workers being fully vaccinated, we have begun rolling out our booster shots for added protection. We hope that these efforts will help entice visitors to return, especially now that we have developed many new tourism circuits catering to the interests of tourists in this new era of travel,” Ms. Puyat said.

According to the DoT, visitor arrivals from South Korea amounted to 1.98 million in 2019, making it the Philippines’ leading source of tourists.

Since the borders reopened on Feb. 10, the Philippines has tallied 5,551 visitors from South Korea.

“Other than its natural beauty, the lure of the Philippines to South Korean tourists can be partly attributed to the proximity of the Philippines, which takes only three and a half hours by air. The emergence of low-cost carriers, resulting in frequent flights and reasonable travel costs, and good quality of service have also attracted Korean tourists to the Philippines,” the DoT said.

In a television interview, Ms. Puyat said that the Philippines has logged 176,857 visitor arrivals since it reopened its borders on Feb. 10 with eased quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers.

She said the top source of visitors since the reopening are the US, Canada, and the UK.

“The requirement to enter the Philippines is to be fully vaccinated and have either a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test 48 hours before going here or negative lab-based antigen test 24 hours before departure,” Ms. Puyat said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave