BI: Tourist visa extension application dropped 45% in 2020 amid pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — There was a 45-percent decrease in the number of Philippine tourist visa extensions last year – amid a global health crisis due to the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing Covid-19.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente reported Friday that their Tourist Visa Section (TVS) processed a total of 240,276 applications for extension of stay of tourists in 2020, which was 44.67-percent lower than the 434,251 similar applications the office received in 2019.
Morente, however, said the “sharp decline” was expected following the travel bans imposed by the government due to the pandemic.
“International travel restrictions remain in place even as we anticipate a gradual lifting of these restrictions this year as the vaccines against Covid-19 begin to arrive,” Morente said in a statement.
“We hope that the tourism industry will finally rebound at least by the second or third quarter of 2021 and the Philippines will once again open its doors to foreign visitors,” he added.
Further, Morente said that due to entry restrictions on foreign tourists, the amount of visa extension fees also registered a significant reduction in 2020.
Morente said the BI’s collection from visa extension fees amounted to only P1.3 billion last year, which is 40-percent less than the almost P2.2 billion earned in 2019.
The BI official said collection from visa extension fees is considered as an indication of the Philippines’ growing reputation as a major tourist destination in the Southeast Asian region since a rise in visa extension fee collection would mean more foreign tourists are opting to prolong their stay in the country.
“Despite the low numbers for 2020, we remain hopeful that the tourism industry can bounce back this year,” Morente said.
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