MORE THAN 186,000 foreign tourists have arrived in the Philippines since reopening its borders on Feb. 10, according to the Department of Tourism (DoT).  

From Feb. 10 to April 4, we have received 186,438 tourist arrivals, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat reported during the Philippine Economic Briefing press conference at the Philippine International Convention Center on Tuesday.  

The Philippines started accepting foreign tourists from visa-free countries on Feb. 10. This was expanded on April 1 to include vaccinated tourists from all countries in a bid to help in the recovery of the tourism sector and the overall economy.  

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the industry contributed 12.7% to the countrys economy in 2019, higher than the 2000-2018 average of 7.4%.  

Visitor receipts that year were tallied at P482.15 billion, up 18.8% from 2018. 

From the border reopening date, Ms. Puyat said the top country of origin among foreign travelers was the United States, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Australia. 

In 2019, the Philippines recorded nearly 8.19 million foreign arrivals with Koreans at the top of the list at 1.99 million, accounting for 24% of the total.  

Coming in second was China at 1.74 million, followed by the US at 1.06 million and Japan at almost 683,000.  

Ms. Puyat highlighted that the Philippines has the least entry restrictions among Asian countries, which is seen to entice more visitors.  

When you arrive in the Philippines, all you need is a test before arrival. And when you arrive here, there is no more quarantine and no more test upon arrival. I think in Asia, we have the least number of restrictions,she said.   

Previously, the DoT announced that fully-vaccinated foreign tourists should only present either a negative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test taken 48 hours before departure or a negative lab-based antigen test taken 24 hours prior to leaving the country of origin. Revin Mikhael D. Ochave