Hanoi (VNA) – The Philippines has lifted the ban on entry for foreigners who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in a bid to recover its struggling tourism sector.

In a statement released on January 28, Philippine Secretary for Tourism Romulo-Puyat said that citizens from more than 150 countries, including the US, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada and the UK who have enjoyed visa exemption since before the pandemic, to enter the Philippines.

She said that the permission of vaccinated travelers’ entry is expected to considerably contribute to efforts to deal with employment issues, especially in localities that greatly depend on tourism, as well as efforts to recover the operation of travel businesses.

Along with the ban lifting, the Philippine Government will also remove the regulation on quarantine for its citizens returning home from abroad from February 1 and for foreigners from February 10. However, they must show certificates of COVID-19 vaccination and negative COVID-19 testing results.

The Philippines, a popular tourist destination with beautiful beaches and diverse maritime biodiversity, planned to reopen its tourism sector from December 2021. However, the plan was canceled due to the appearance of Omicron variant.

Tourism has been a major driving force of the Philippine economic growth. Last year, due to COVID-19 impacts, the number of visitors from its leading markets such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and China reduced 83 percent to only 1.4 million.

So far, the Southeast Asian country has reported over 3.4 million COVID-19 cases and more than 53,000 deaths. About 50 percent of the 110 million population of the Philippines have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot./.