Tourism inquiries, bookings up as travel restrictions ease

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 4) — Several members of the tourism industry have observed an increase in the number of bookings and inquiries they receive.

This follows the announcement of the government to reopen the sector for fully vaccinated foreigners from non-visa required countries for tourism and business purposes starting Feb. 10. 

Cebu Pacific spokesperson Carmina Romero told CNN Philippines' The Exchange that they have seen higher bookings with the relaxation of restrictions. She said they are ready to support this through increases in flight frequencies in the coming months.

SM Hotels & Conventions Corp. SVP-Operations Walid Wafik said they have been also observing the same trend, especially from domestic travelers. 

In terms of events, Wafik said they are expecting these will come back this year as organizers confirm allocations and spaces for the resumption of their in-person activities.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said more tourists from the United States - especially balikbayans - are expected this year, as well as those from South Korea and Japan. Travelers are also inquiring in tourist spots like Cebu, Palawan, Bohol, and Boracay, she added.

However, she noted the reopening next week will be gradual, and is more of a signal that the country is ready and health protocols are in place.

Romulo-Puyat also said they hope the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will reconsider its warning against traveling to the Philippines since this did not consider the current drop in local infections.