Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Visa Upon Arrival suspended amid risk posed by novel coronavirus

The Bureau of Immigration has suspended its visa upon arrival facility to address the risk of novel coronavirus (nCoV) by "[slowing] down the influx of group tours."

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a bureau press release that Chinese tour groups visiting the Philippines often use the VUA facility. Chinese tourists have had VUA privilege since 2017 by request of the Tourism department. Visas upon arrival are granted to Chinese tourists screened by Department of Tourism-accredited tour operators in China and vetted by the BI.

"The Civil Aeronautics Board has already suspended direct flights from Wuhan province," Morente said, referring to the city in Hubei province in China that has been identified as the epicenter of the nCoV outbreak.  "We are now temporarily suspending the issuance of VUA for Chinese nationals to slow down the influx of group tours," Morente said.

The comissioner clarified that the Philippines is not barring Chinese tourists from the country, "but we are taking this proactive measure to slow down travel, and possibly help prevent the entry of the 2019-nCov." Bureau spokesperson Dana Sandoval last week said BI "has been denying applications for [visitors upon arrival] for tour groups who will be flying in from Wuhan, following the announcement of the Civil Aeronautics Board to suspend all direct flights from Wuhan to the Philippines."
SOURCE: www.philstar.com