TOURIST arrivals in the Philippines reached over 96,000 in just over a month since the reopening of international borders for foreigners from visa-free countries on Feb. 10, the Department of Tourism (DoT) reported.  

From Feb. 10 to March 15, weve received already 96,096 touristsWere pleasantly surprised, at least it is continuous. And this was only from visa-free countries,Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in mixed English and Filipino during a radio interview on Thursday.    

Ms. Puyat said the tourism industry is optimistic about keeping the momentum as full reopening for all nationalities will take effect on April 1.   

Starting April 1, the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) approved that all countries will be allowed to enter,she said.   

The Philippine government has lifted the quarantine requirement, but arriving international passengers are still required to present a negative coronavirus test result.  

(They) have a choice, either negative RT-PCR 48 hours before departure or a negative lab-based antigen test. It should be lab-based and not the home test kit. The lab-based antigen captures those that continue to test positive but have recovered already,Ms. Puyat said.   

In a separate statement on Thursday, DoT reminded hotels and other accommodation establishments on the relaxed guidelines on room occupancy under Alert Levels 1, 2, and 3.   

The department made the clarification after receiving reports of hotels insisting that guests could not share rooms if they are from different households.   

The hotels are also allowed full room occupancy, regardless of whether the leisure guests are from the same household or not, subject to minimum public health standards,it said. 

Tourism contributed 12.8% to the countrys economic output in 2019. This dropped to 5.4% in 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Revin Mikhael D. Ochave