Skift Take

Australia has attracted a huge number of tourists through its relatively open borders and long-stay visas. The Philippines could see an also influx of tourists looking for short-term work, which would ultimately boost the economy and country’s profile.

Foreign visitors who want to extend their vacation in the Philippines may now do so without the usual hassles.

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced on Tuesday that foreigners who would like to stay longer in the country, could avail of a six-month, long-stay tourist visa from the agency. The program is set to be formally launched next week, according to the BI.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner also announced that the bureau would introduce the new visa sticker to replace the wet stamp it was using to implement extensions of stay on the passports of foreign tourists.

The Long Stay Visitor Visa Extension (LSVVE) project was launched to draw more international travelers into the country by giving them the privilege to prolong their stay in the country without the need to frequently visit the BI office to process their documents. Currently, the bureau allows foreign tourists a maximum stay of two months in the country each time they apply for visa extensions.

“Through this long-stay visa, we [also] expect lesser crowding in our offices due to the decreased volume of visa extension applicants,” stated David.

On the other hand, the new visa sticker will help the bureau prevent the proliferation of fake visa extension stamps, which have victimized many foreigners, added the BI chief, who noted that the new sticker would have security and tracking features that could not be duplicated.

“It will also speed up transactions in our visa section, allow more efficient tracking records and faster detection of forged and tampered stamps,” said David.

He disclosed that new measures being implemented by the bureau were initiated following meetings with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Foreign Affairs on policy reforms that could help the government draw more international tourists to the country.

For this year, the DOT is aiming to increase the volume of tourist arrivals to 5.5 million and double this figure by the end of the Aquino administration in 2016.

(c)2013 the Asia News Network (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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Tags: philippines, visas

Photo credit: A photographer snaps a photo of a couple while another pair looks on at the "chocolate hills" of Philippines. Mendhak / Flickr

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