Philippines expects more tourists as COVID-19 restrictions ease

The Philippines is expecting more tourists to visit the country after the government relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, the tourism department said on Monday.

Pandemic rules in Metro Manila and 38 other areas across the Southeast Asian country will shift to alert level 1, the lowest on a scale of 5, starting March 1 to allow more economic activities.

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said easing the restrictions will boost tourism and make it easier for foreign and domestic travelers to visit the country’s tourist spots.

“The tourism department anticipates with optimism the revival of many tourism jobs and opportunities that were once lost to the pandemic,” Puyat added.

The pandemic has badly hit the tourism sector in the Philippines, forcing hotels and airlines to lay off staff. Almost 1.1 million workers were affected in the tourism industry across the country, according to official data.

The lowering of the COVID-19 alert level came two weeks after the country allowed fully vaccinated travelers from 157 countries and regions that have visa-free arrangements with the Philippines to enter after nearly a two-year ban imposed due to the pandemic.

Under the updated guidelines, fully vaccinated adult travelers can visit areas under alert 1, making travel more accessible and convenient. Public transportation can operate at total capacity.