(Philstar.com) – November 28, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — Millions of foreign nationals left the Philippines this year, the immigration bureau said Saturday, noting that the coronavirus pandemic has caused a mass departure not seen in recent memory.
“For 2020, 1.5 million [foreigners] arrived in the country but  million left. So, more people are leaving the Philippines and we [will] see this trend probably until the end of the year, or until the early next year that many leave while there is a pandemic,” Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said in Filipino during a virtual briefing aired over state-run PTV.
She further called this development an “exodus” of foreign nationals, seen in the country “for the first ime in history or [not seen] in a long time.”
The most foreign departures were recorded among Koreans with 400,000 exits, the bureau said earlier this week. It added that Americans and Chinese trail them with about 300,000 exits while the Japanese account for some 166,000 departures.
Sandoval noted that this new trend will likely cause unfavorable effects on the already pandemic-crippled economy.
“[F]or the past few years we have seen upward the trend of foreign arrivals here in the country following … the efforts of the Department of Tourism to invite foreign toursits here in the Philippines so we can see that it will have a big impact on our economy,” she said.
The COVID-19 task force this week decided to further ease inbound travel restrictions, allowing the entry of Filipino citizens’ foreign spouses and children starting December 7.
This was announced by presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Friday, who added that Filipino citizens along with their spouses and children would be allowed to travel to the Philippines too.
Thie move was lauded by the Department of Tourism as one that would reunite families and further revitalize an industry struck hard by the pandemic.
“Balikbayans are considered as a viable source market of the country for tourism, particularly extending to the second and third generation dependents who have yet to discover their parents’ roots,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
“The Filipino diaspora to date, has reached about 10 million. That is why we deem important the Filipino communities abroad as staunch partners in driving visitors to the Philippines,” she added.
— Bella Perez-Rubio with a report from The STAR