Legislator pushes for removal of e-travel registration for arrivals

A LEGISLATOR is calling for the removal of eTravel registration for incoming international passengers, saying that removing the requirement will help attract more visitors.

“A lot more people can be enticed to go to the Philippines, whether for pleasure or business, if we were to get rid of the eTravel document that is so tedious and time-consuming for inbound passengers to accomplish,” Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte, Jr. said in a statement.

International travelers are required to register prior to departure and arrival with the Immigration bureau’s eTravel system not earlier than 72 hours. The system facilitates border controls, health surveillance, and economic data analysis.

The easing of the inbound requirement will mark full transition to the post-pandemic “new normal,” helping accelerate the economy’s rebound, he said, adding that more international mobility is expected as more COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) barriers to travel fall.

The COVID-19 positivity rate in the National Capital Region increased to 18.8% on May 1, according to OCTA research group.

Health department officer-in-charge Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said utilization of healthcare facilities remains low, citing the level of immunity achieved via vaccination.

The Department of Health said on Tuesday that the daily average of COVID cases has risen 42% from a week earlier.

The Philippines last week detected its first case of Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16, which is spreading in more than 30 countries.

Also called Arcturus, the subvariant is considered highly contagious. The World Health Organization has classified XBB.1.16 as a variant of interest.

Mr. Villafuerte s aid that “the (next) logical step for Malacañang’s policy of relaxing anti-COVID health protocols and reopening our economy to global business and travel is the ditching of the eTravel document as an entry prerequisite.” — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz