The Department of Tourism (DOT) is excited to announce the upcoming implementation of the electronic visa (e-visa) system for temporary visitors, commencing with Chinese nationals as part of its pilot program, followed by Indian nationals by yearend. This initiative, revealed by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), marks a significant step towards enhancing the accessibility and convenience of the visa application process for international travelers.

The decision to implement the e-visa system emerged from a visa reforms convergence meeting held on March 24, 2023, in accordance with the directive of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. The meeting saw the collaboration of key government entities, including the DOT, DFA, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Bureau of Immigration (BI). The primary focus was on streamlining the visa application process, beginning with Chinese visitors.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco expressed her gratitude for President Marcos, Jr.’s directive, stating, “We are grateful that the directive of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to implement the e-visa system will soon come into fruition with DFA’s implementation as it will surely improve the experience of inbound travelers and tourists.”

In 2019, the Philippines welcomed over 1.7 million Chinese visitors. Despite recent travel restrictions, the DOT recorded 137,822 arrivals from China as of July 26, 2023. The e-visa system is expected to not only ease the visa processing for travelers but also boost the confidence of airlines, charter operators, and travel agents, potentially leading to the resumption of direct flights from various points in China to popular tourist destinations in the Philippines.

Secretary Frasco highlighted the strategic importance of the e-visa in the competitive Southeast Asian market, stating, “Certainly, the e-visa will be a game changer in the Chinese market, which currently prefers other Southeast Asian destinations.”

The introduction of the e-visa system is anticipated to revitalize the Philippine tourism industry, particularly in the Chinese market, which was the country’s second-top tourist market in 2019. Secretary Frasco remarked, “The e-visa system’s introduction holds the promise of recovering the Chinese market and opening up to the Indian market.”

President Marcos, Jr. directed the government agencies earlier this year to extend the e-visa to certain nationalities, demonstrating the country’s commitment to facilitating tourism resurgence. Secretary Frasco concluded, “We are confident that the implementation of the e-visa system will encourage more Chinese and new Indian visitors to explore the wonders of our archipelago, creating unforgettable experiences and lasting memories.”

The visa reform convergence meeting signifies a crucial step towards simplifying visa application procedures and addressing tourism bottlenecks. As global lockdowns ease, the Philippines aims to accelerate tourism resurgence and welcome visitors from around the world.

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