MANILA, Philippines — Mass departures of foreigners due to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue until the end of the year and will have a major impact on the state of the country’s tourism, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Monday.
Almost 2 million foreign nationals have left the country from January to September 2020, according to data provided by BI.
Meanwhile, the country only experienced an influx of 1.5 million foreigners, of which most arrived before travel restrictions during the same period.
“In 2020, due to the pandemic, for the first time, we’ve seen more departures of foreign nationals than arrivals,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.
Morente said that these departures will have a major impact despite the government’s commitment to tourism.
“The government had made significant strides in improving tourism, however, this pandemic proved to counter all previous efforts,” said the commissioner.
“Areas that were once booming with foreign tourists, workers, or students are now empty. We’re hoping that little by little, the confidence of foreign nationals to visit our country, invest here, work here, or study here be renewed as we work to fight this pandemic,” he stated.
According to BI data, Korean nationals topped the list of departures with 400,000 exits; followed by American and Chinese nationals with 300,000, and Japanese with more than 166,000 exits.
Morente stated that 188,517 Chinese nationals have arrived in the country from January to September. Meanwhile, 292,669 Chinese nationals have departed during the same period.
This leaves the country with less than 500,000 Chinese nationals in total as of mid-September, according to BI data.
“We hope that Covid-19 be resolved soon, so we may revive the tourism economy which was badly hit by this pandemic,” Morente said