The US Center for Disease and Control Prevention added the Philippines to its list of countries under “Level Four: Very High,” the highest tier on its travel health notices advising to “avoid travel to this destination” last January 31,

Under Alert Level Four, nationals intending to travel to the Philippines are urged to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines while anyone two years or older must wear a well-fitting mask in indoor places and follow all requirements in the country.

“Even if you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, you may still be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19,” it stated.

In a report by the BusinessMirror, Rajah Tours Philippines President Jose Clemente III said the travel advisory “will likely have little impact on US citizens patiently waiting to travel to the Philippines.”

“In recent years, you take the travel advisory in consideration but not as much before, when we (had) zero arrival result,” Clemente said.

“Honestly, I don’t anticipate any question about it. The way I see it, people are so hungry to travel right now… sure they will take it into consideration but it won’t be a deal-breaker,” he added.

Following the Philippines’ re-opening to foreign tourists on February 10, Clemente said his clients “were extremely happy.”

“We’ve already been receiving inquiries from the US. Our San Francisco office is entertaining a booking from a group of 30, who already want to come.

So overall, the announcement had a positive effect,” he said, noting “the bulk of foreign tourists will likely travel to the Philippines during the Winter Season but 60 to 70 percent (of my clients) (have firmed up) to come in April, May, June. They were already asking about (our company’s) deposit policies.”

The report also noted the US State Department’s advice to citizens to “exercise increased caution due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping,” in Sulu, Marawi City, and other areas in Mindanao.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) said on January 28 that the lifting of the quarantine policy for fully-vaccinated international travelers from countries with visa-free entry to the Philippines and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) will restore lost jobs and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We at the DOT are very thankful to our partners in the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) for approving our proposal to allow the entry of foreign leisure travelers.

The Department sees this as a welcome development that will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in Tourism-dependent communities, and in the re-opening of businesses that have earlier shut down during the pandemic,’’ Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

“With years of coordination between national agencies, industry stakeholders, and the various local government units (LGUs) to prepare our destinations for Tourism in the new normal, we are confident that we will be able to keep pace with our ASEAN neighbors who have already made similar strides to re-open to foreign tourists,” she added.

Since February 10, the Philippines allowed the entry of fully-vaccinated international tourists from visa-free countries if they present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours before they depart from their country of origin.

Under IATF Resolution number 159, fully-vaccinated foreign tourists must self-monitor for any sign or symptom of COVID-19 for seven days with the first date being the date of arrival as a facility-based quarantine is no longer mandatory upon arrival.

“(They) shall be required to report to the local government unit of destination upon the manifestation of symptoms, if any,” Cabinet Secretary and Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said.

Foreign tourists must also have a passport valid for at least six months at the time of arrival with outbound tickets to their country of origin or the next country of destination.

In a report by the Philippine News Agency, a total of 157 countries including some top tourist markets such as South Korea, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States and Germany enjoyed visa-free entry privileges before the pandemic.

Children below 18 years old are exempted from the full inoculation requirement before boarding.

In a separate announcement, the IATF suspended the green, yellow and red classification for countries beginning February 1 while ROFs will no longer be required to undergo quarantine as long as they can present a negative result of an RT-PCR test taken 48 hours before departure from their point of origin.

Previously, the Philippines halted the re-opening of the borders to fully-vaccinated tourists from green list countries, territories, jurisdictions last December 1 due to the threat of the Omicron variant.