philippines reopening borders

Philippines opening tourism from low and medium risk countries in 2021

Disclaimer: Travel rules and official government instructions are changing rapidly during the pandemic times and this article might NOT be up to date within a matter of hours. Therefore, you should always double-check the information with local authorities or your embassy in a given destination. Traveling Lifestyle does not take any responsibility for your decision to travel during pandemic.

The Philippines government is working on the possibility of reopening for tourism to countries with low to medium coronavirus transmission rates.

Karlo Nograles, The Cabinet Secretary of the Philippines stated that the country is preparing the ground by determining if the country’s health system capacity can handle a spike in COVID-19 cases following a reopening.

Nogales also said that this has to be a step-by-step process but he has not announced any official reopening date yet.

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Philippines Reopening – LATEST UPDATES

November 30 – COVID-19 situation in the Philippines

As of today, the country has reported 427,797 positive cases and 8,333 deaths.

As can be seen from the data, the Philippines has had a much higher number of cases than most of the rest of Southeast Asia. Part of the problem is that, with so many day laborers is difficult for much of the population to strictly follow the quarantine orders.

UPDATE NOV 16 – Philippines announce a reopening plan

  • The country is reportedly working on a reopening plan with countries that also accept visitors from the Philippines as a form of reciprocity policy.
  • The Philippines lifted the restriction on non-essential outbound travel for Filipinos at the end of October.

Current COVID situation in Philippines

As of November 16 – Philippines has 375K confirmed COVID cases and 7114 deaths caused by the virus.

Daily rates are gradually decreasing but they are still ranging between 1500-2000 new cases per day which is quite high considering the hard lockdown measures that were applied in spring and summer. Source

UPDATE SEPT 30 – Philippines reopening for domestic tourism

The Philippines will gradually start reopening local lockdowns but also for domestic tourism in order to proceed with the recovery of the tourism sector, said Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon.

Boracay, Siargao, Baguio, and other hotspots are about to start reopening as of October 1st but various restrictions apply and testing might be required for locals as well. See the detailed information here.

UPDATE SEPT 7 – Philippines might not reopen until second half of 2021

Government spokeswoman, Czarina Zara-Loyola said in that they will expect tourism to return when other countries will start reopening borders in 2nd half of 2021. (Source:


As of September, 6th – Philippines have 237,365 confirmed COVID cases and 3,875 deaths due to COVID. Daily cases are gradually decreasing and the situation seems to be more under control. Nevertheless, 2000 per day on average is still too a high number to start reopening.

Since August, Government hasn’t released any official statement on the reopening plans.

The Philippines initially opened for tourists on June 1st, but…

Philippines Reopening

While the government gave the provinces the green light to open for tourism on June 1st, according to tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, provinces were reluctant to accept tourists due to Covid-19 fears. As the number of cases climbed, borders were again closed.

Currently, the only foreign travelers allowed into the country are the spouses or children of Filipino nationals and permanent residents from abroad. However, all travelers are subject to a 14-day quarantine and must take a Covid-19 test upon arrival.

Travelers need to be aware of the current quarantine status of the area they are traveling to.

From August 19th to August 31st, much of the country is under General Community Quarantine rules, while the rest is under Modified General Community Quarantine.

For information on what this entails and what regions are affected, see the US Embassy Site.

Regardless of the region, all visitors and residents must comply with social distancing rules, wash their hands frequently, and wear masks. A bandana, handkerchief or towel may be used in lieu of a store-bought mask.

After August 31st, the President has indicated the country can begin to open for tourists.

Baguio City will be one of the first to allow tourists, starting in September. Visitors will need to pre-register through an online registration system prior to arriving, and they must agree to the guidelines.

They will need to pre-book accommodations with accredited service providers and provide their full itinerary. They will need to take a Covid-19 test and remain self-quarantined in their hotel until they test negative.

The impact of the Coronavirus in Philippines

On August 4th, stay-at-home measures were once again put in place in Manila and other cities. In remote parts of the country, however, few cases have been reported and so the situation is quite different.

On August 17th, President Duterte called for the reopening of the economy. Prior to the pandemic, the Philippines was one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies. Now it is in recession.

The virus’ effect on tourism is part of the problem. In 2019, over 8 million tourists came to the Philippines, and the tourist industry accounted for 13% of the country’s GDP. Almost 1 in every 7 Filipinos worked in the tourist sector. Now with the lockdowns, many of them are out of work with no end in sight. This has motivated the government to try to open up the country, but it’s a slow process.

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As of August 19th, most businesses will be allowed to reopen, as will religious services. However, total attendance at houses of worship will be limited to about a third of capacity. This opening up will be accompanied by intensified testing and improved tracing.

 If you are a national returning home, check the Philippine COVID-19 website for re-entry and quarantine instructions.

Why Visit the Philippines?

The Philippines is a wonderful place for a tropical escape. It’s warm and, with more than 7,000 islands, has miles of white sand beaches for you to relax on.

The waters are crystal clear and provide opportunities for snorkelers, divers, kayakers, and fishermen. Some of these locations, such as Boracay, Palawan, and Siargao, constantly make it into the top beach destinations in the world.

There are also other natural wonders, such as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the longest navigable underground river in the world. You can take a tour through a cave system filled with impressive formations.

You can also enjoy unique cuisine, vibrant local festivals, and some of the friendliest people in the world. Because the locals usually speak English, you’ll find it easy to communicate. Getting lost is not a problem, and when you stop to ask directions you may end up with an impromptu guide.

Filipinos are proud of their country and love to answer visitors’ questions.
It’s also an inexpensive travel destination. You can get a day tour for about $20 and decent meals for under $5. If you want to pamper yourself, however, there are many luxury resorts as well as spas that cater to tourists.