In the wake of South Korea being declared the number one hotspot outside China for the new COVID-19 viral strain, the Philippines has imposed travel restrictions on travelers to and from the East Asian nation.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Disease has approved the total ban on Filipino ourists from traveling to South Korea. All travelers from the North Gyeongsang province of South Korea, which has the highest incidence of COVID-19, are also barred from entering the Philippines.
South Korea has the most number of COVID-19 cases outside of China. Currently, there are 1,146 cases, mostly in the city of Deagu and its nearby areas.
Panelo clarified that permanent residents, those leaving for study, and OFWs, provided that they sign a declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in their travel prior to their departure.
Panelo also said that the IATF will be conducting a comprehensive risk assessment of the situation to decide whether there is a need to further expand the travel ban.
“With respect to other parts of South Korea, the IATF shall conduct a risk assessment of the situation within 48 hours to analyze whether it is necessary to expand the travel ban.
The ban is expected to have an impact on the Philippine tourism sector, particularly if it expands to cover more provinces of South Korea.
South Korea is the Philippine’s top tourist market with more that 1.98 million arrivals in 2019 alone. The next market is China with 1.74 million arrivals. The Philippines has already put a total travel ban on China following the outbreak of COVID-19.
According to earlier projections by the Department of Tourism, the projected loss from the travel restrictions on just China and its special administrative regions is already around P42.9 billion.