The government of the Philippines has suspended its visa on arrival program for Chinese citizens. This has been implemented in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China’s Hubei province.
Chinese citizens can still visit the Philippines, however, they will be unable to do so with a visa on arrival until the restrictions are lifted.
This is expected to continue until the spread of the virus has been contained. The new rules have been put into to “slow down” travel and to take steps to prevent cases of the virus in the country.
This article looks at how the changes will affect visiting the Philippines from China. It also explains what precautions travelers should take when traveling around the Far East and China whilst the coronavirus remains active.
Types of Visas Chinese Citizens Can Still Use
There are still a number of Philippine visas that can be used by Chinese citizens. Visitors from China must have a valid visa approved before traveling to the country or they will not be able to pass through national immigration.
To apply for a Philippine visa as a Chinese citizen, visitors must first obtain permission to travel from a local consulate or embassy for the Philippines. Chinese tourists currently cannot use the country’s eTA program which just requires an online application.
However, visitors may stay in the country for 7 days without additional travel clearance if they are holders of the following visas:
- EU Schengen
Whilst the visa on arrival program is suspended these are the only ways in which Chinese travelers will be able to enter the country. However, travelers from China already holding approved visas currently face no restrictions on entering the Philippines with their valid documents.
The visa on arrival program was first introduced in 2017 for Chinese citizens to increase tourism numbers in the country. Eligible Chinese nationals included tourists booking trips via tour groups, delegates, athletes and business people.
Chinese visitors to the Philippines make up around 1.2m million of the country’s 7.5 million annual foreign travelers. It comprises 22% of all international visitors entering the country and is only 2nd behind South Korea in terms of people arriving in the Southeastern Asian nation.
Coronavirus Precautions for Travelers
At present, the Philippines has only 1 confirmed case of the coronavirus. This was identified as affecting a traveler from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. There have been no Philippine nationals affected by the virus as yet. Nevertheless, the government is monitoring the situation as it develops.
The head of the Philippine Department of Health, Francisco Duque stated that: “I assure the public that the Department of Health is on top of this evolving situation. We were able to detect the first confirmed case because of our strong surveillance system, close coordination with the World Health Organization and other national agencies.”
As there is a heightened risk of infection of travelers in the region the Philippine government is taking the following steps to avoid the spread of the virus:
- Carrying out additional airport checks
- Screening travelers for symptoms
- Advising sick passengers to avoid travel.
Additionally, the government has suggested that visitors and residents should maintain extra caution with regard to hygiene. As general advice, travelers and citizens of the Philippines are recommended to do the following to avoid spreading illness:
- Wash their hands frequently
- Avoid contact with those suffering from the virus
- Practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette by covering the mouth or wearing a face mask
- Seek medical help if they encounter any symptoms of the coronavirus.
Whilst there are temporary precautions in place, visiting the Philippines is still very much possible and safe for Chinese and other foreign visitors. However, it is essential to check the most up to date information regarding visas being issued currently as things continue to develop.