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Marcos orders extension of e-visas for some foreign nationals

With the aim to boost tourism, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Thursday directed government agencies to extend e-visas for Chinese, Indian, South Korean and Japanese nationals.

Marcos issued the order during a meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) tourism sector group in Malacañang wherein the council advises the President to achieve the government's economic goals.

The PSAC recommended the inclusion of Indian nationals under the visa-upon-arrival program and the extension of e-visa, which is currently available only for Taiwanese, Chinese, Indian, South Korean, and Japanese nationals.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said the DFA is already collaborating with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) regarding the development of these plans.

With regard to the visa-upon-arrival, Manalo said the DFA has a program, which applies to certain Chinese nationals, while Americans, Japanese, Australians, Canadians, and Europeans may have a 14-day visa upon arrival.

Meanwhile, DICT Secretary Ivan Uy said the agency is still studying various connectivity matters, which need to be threshed out with respect to other jurisdictions that will avail of the Philippine e-visa platform.

"It will take at least a semester to develop the capability because there is so much anti-fraud element that needs to be consolidated with the platform, and the various countries that will be connecting with the system and with the transactions," Uy said.

Further, the PSAC suggested the enforcement of a Value-Added Tax (VAT) Refund Program for foreign tourists by 2024; the removal of One Health Pass (OHP) or requirement of one form only for health, immigration, and customs; revocation of outdated advisories and loud-speaker announcements at airports; and automatic inclusion of travel tax in all airline tickets.

According to the Presidential Communications Office, the Department of Tourism is targeting 4.8 million tourist arrivals in 2023, which can generate P2.58 trillion in revenues.—LDF, GMA Integrated News