The Philippines will end a two-year travel ban and open its borders to vaccinated foreign tourists from more than 150 countries starting next month.
The government will also lift a requirement for mandatory facility-based quarantine for double-vaccinated international travellers as early as February 1, presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles told a televised briefing.
"Starting February 10, we will push through with allowing fully vaccinated foreign nationals coming from countries under Executive Order 408 to enter the Philippines for business and tourism purposes," Nograles said on Friday.
The decision resumes visa-free entry for nationals from 157 countries, including Australia, the US and all European nations, which is allowed under the executive order that has been in effect since 1960.
Nograles said foreign tourists must present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours prior to departure and an international certificate of vaccination against COVID-19.
"The tourism industry will now be able to recover and it will be able to contribute significantly to the livelihood and economic growth of the country," he said.
The Philippines has been closed to foreign tourists since March 2020, when the government closed borders and imposed a lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The government initially planned to allow some foreign tourists to enter the country in December, but delayed the decision when the highly transmissible Omicron variant became a concern.
COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to record highs after the Christmas holidays, but health experts said the numbers were already declining and more Filipinos were getting their vaccine doses.
On Friday, the Department of Health reported an additional 18,638 COVID-19 cases, pushing the country's total caseload to more than 3.5 million since the start of the pandemic. The death toll rose by 68 to 53,801, it added.
More than 53 per cent of the country's total population are now double-vaccinated, the department said.
The list of nationalities cleared for visa-free travel does not include China and Taiwan, which are normally both important markets for tourism in the Philippines.
Other large markets including South Korea, the United States, Japan, Australia, Canada and Britain are on the list, however.
Australian Associated Press
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