By Prince Golez
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered government agencies to extend e-visa for Chinese, Indian, South Korean and Japanese nationals to capture the tourism markets of these countries, Malacañang said.
In a statement, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Marcos Jr. issued the directive during the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) Tourism Sector group meeting in Malacañang on Thursday.
The PSAC advised the President to achieve the government’s economic objectives, particularly in the country’s key sectors, according to the PCO.
The PSAC also proposed extending the e-visa, which is presently only available to Taiwanese citizens, to Chinese, Indian, South Korean, and Japanese nationals in order to tap into the lucrative tourist markets of China and India.
On the issue of e-visa, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is collaborating with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on the development of the technical plans.
Regarding visa-on-arrival, Manalo stated that the DFA has a program that applies to certain Chinese nationals.
Other nationals, including Americans, Japanese, Australians, Canadians, and Europeans, may be granted a 14-day visa upon arrival.
For his part, DICT Secretary Ivan Uy said his department is still studying various connectivity matters that need to be threshed out with respect to the other jurisdictions that will use the Philippine e-visa platform.
It will take at least a semester to develop the capability because there is so much anti-fraud element that needs to be consolidated with the platform, and the various countries that will be connecting with the system and with the transactions, said Uy.
Marcos Jr. suggested that the DICT accept India’s offer to use its app regarding visas.
Aside from rolling out of the e-visa by 2023, and prioritizing China and India, the PSAC proposed the implementation of a Value-Added Tax Refund Program for foreign tourists by 2024; the removal of One Health Pass or requirement of one form only for health, immigration, and customs; revocation of outdated advisories and loud-speaker announcements at airports; and automatic inclusion of travel tax in all airline tickets.
Its short-term strategic recommendations are the improvement of airport infrastructure and operations, promotion of tourism investments and managing national brand or image.
From February to December 2022, the Philippines hosted 2.65 million visitors (2.02 million foreign tourists and 628,445 Filipinos overseas), higher than the 2021 tourist arrivals of 163,879 but lower than the pre-pandemic level of 8.26 million.
The Department of Tourism expects 4.8 million tourist arrivals in 2023, which could generate P2.58 trillion in revenue.