Philippines to reopen in February to vaccinated foreign tourists

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People relax along White Beach amid the coranavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Boracay Island, Aklan province, Philippines, December 1, 2021. Picture taken December 1, 2021. Picture taken with drone. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez/File Photo

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MANILA, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The Philippines will grant entry to visitors vaccinated against COVID-19 from Feb. 10, its government said on Friday, in an effort to boost a tourism sector decimated by the pandemic.

The archipelago nation of more than 7,000 islands had planned to reopen in December, but that was aborted over concerns about the Omicron variant.

Citizens of 150 countries that have visa-free entry to the Philippines will be allowed to enter.

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"(This) will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and in the reopening of businesses that have earlier shut down," Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

Puyat also said the government will remove quarantine requirements for returning Filipinos from Feb. 1, and for foreign tourists from Feb. 10, but they must be vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19.

The Philippines, popular for its white sand beaches and rich marine life, joins other Southeast Asian countries in reopening to tourists to boost jobs and help their economies recover.

Tourist arrivals in the Philippines from top markets Japan, South Korea and China slumped 83% drop to 1.4 million last year.

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Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty

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