FOREIGN tourists to the Philippines are now able to stay up to 30 days without a visa, up from 21 days before, a recent implementation by the Department of Foreign Affairs that has raised cheers from the trade.
Effective today, the change is applicable for citizens of 151 countries with passports valid for at least six months beyond the intended length of stay and an onward air ticket.
While citizens of India, China and Taiwan are excluded from this, Brazil and Israel nationals remain eligible for 59-day visa-free entry in line with existing bilateral agreements with the Philippines.
Jaime Victor Ledda, assistant secretary of the Office of Consular Affairs, commented that longer visa-free stays could encourage more tourists and investors to stay as it removed “the need for them to report to immigration offices”.
“It will also give them more flexibility in planning and managing their schedules,” added Ledda.
The trade has welcomed the move as well. “The additional nine days of visa-free stay is a big deal for both leisure and business travellers,” said Francisco Lim, general manager, Adkins Travel Agency, remarking that many of them needed to stay longer than 21 days.
He explained that the new rule would save tourists time and money in applying for an extension of their stay, which has a seven-day waiting period.
Kristine Mariano, sales and reservations officer at Amkor Travel & Tours, said: “The new regulation will definitely attract more tourists into the country, make them stay longer and plan their Philippine itineraries better.”
It is a “big relief” especially for longer-staying tourists such as students and foreigners with families in the country, she commented.
Mariano added a visa extension is also costly – 3,530 pesos (US$81) for a seven-day processing period or more for same-day processing.