Philippines to lift PCR test requirements for non-vaccinated travellers

The move is aimed at helping to revive the country's once thriving tourism industry

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The Philippines has announced plans to lift its remaining PCR test requirements for travellers entering the country.

In a palace briefing on Tuesday, tourism secretary Christina Frasco announced president Ferdinand Marcos Jr and his cabinet had discussed the removal of pre-departure PCR Covid-19 test requirements for entry.

In May, the Philippines lifted the requirement for vaccinated tourists to undergo a pre-departure PCR test, but the requirement still stood for unvaccinated passengers. As well a test no more than 48 hours before departure, unvaccinated travellers were required to undergo facility-based quarantine until receiving a negative PCR result on the fifth day of their arrival in the Philippines, followed by home quarantine until the 14th day of their trip.

Under the new plans, unvaccinated tourists who present a negative rapid antigen result will be granted entry into the country.

“As far as unvaccinated foreigners are concerned, they would henceforth be allowed entry into the Philippines with only the requirement of presenting an antigen test 24 hours taken before the departure or an option of taking an antigen test upon arrival into the Philippines,” Frasco said.

“The overarching direction of the Marcos admin is to allow our country to convey an openness and readiness to the world to receive tourists and investments so that we would give our fellow Filipinos an opportunity to regain all the livelihood and losses that were incurred during the pandemic,” she said.

Frasco added that the move will benefit millions of Filipinos and the tourism industry.

Visa-free entry to the Philippines is available to those from several destinations including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UK, Ireland, the US, South Africa and many countries in Europe.

A complete list of these destinations can be found on the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs website. Travellers are typically allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of 30 days visa-free, with some exceptions.

Known for its idyllic beaches, marine life and tropical islands, the Philippines relies heavily on tourism and its economy has suffered under strict coronavirus-related lockdowns.

In 2020, less than 1.48 million tourists visited the Philippines, down from more than eight million in 2019, AFP reported.

Updated: October 25, 2022, 7:39 AM