President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday ordered government agencies to extend the e-visas for Chinese, Indian, South Korean and Japanese nationals in a bid to attract more tourists.

During a meeting of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) tourism sector in Malacañang, Marcos Jr. was urged to include Indian nationals under the visa-upon-arrival program, and extend the e-visa, which is currently exclusive to Taiwanese nationals, to Chinese, Indian, South Korean, and Japanese citizens.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be in charge of the e-visa, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said.

Among the PSAC’s short-term strategic recommendations to improve tourism were the improvement of airport infrastructure and operations, promotion of tourism investments and managing the national brand.

According to government data, the country welcomed 2.65 million visitors (2.02 million foreign tourists and 628,445 Filipinos overseas) from February to December 2022.

The number was higher than the 2021 tourist total of 163,879 but still significantly lower than the pre-pandemic level of 8.26 million.

The Department of Tourism is targeting 4.8 million tourist arrivals in 2023, which could generate P2.58 trillion in revenue. John Ezekiel J. Hirro