THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) projects that the exodus of foreign nationals in the country will continue until the end of 2020.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente yesterday shared that from January to September 2020, only a total of 1.5 million foreign nationals arrived in the Philippines, majority of whom arrived before the full implementation of the travel restrictions. By contrast, almost 2 million foreign nationals departed the country during the same period.
The exodus, according to Morente, is an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered travel restrictions worldwide.
“Similar to our overseas Filipino workers who wished to come home to their families during the pandemic, a lot of foreign nationals left as well,” said Morente. “A lot of businesses closed, which also affected the foreign community in the Philippines,” he added.
Topping the list of departures were Koreans with more than 400,000 exits, Americans and Chinese with around 300,000 departures, and Japanese with more than 166,000 exits.
Morente noted that a significant number of Chinese nationals have exited the country due to the pandemic.
According to BI data, as of mid September, less than 500,000 Chinese nationals are seen to be in the Philippines.
Records show that from 2013 to 2019, a total of 6.4 million Chinese nationals arrived in the country, while more than 6.1 million departed during the same period.
“In 2020, due to the pandemic, for the first time, we’ve seen more departures of foreign nationals than arrivals,” said Morente.
Morente bared that 188,517 Chinese nationals arrived in the country from January to September 2020. On the other hand, a total of 292,669 Chinese nationals departed during the same period.
“If we look at the difference of the figures from 2013 to 2020, only 475,129 Chinese nationals from this period are left in the country,” said Morente. He clarified, however, that the figures do not reflect those who came in before 2013.
Morente sees that the exodus of foreign nationals will have a major impact on tourism efforts of the country.
“The government had made significant strides in improving tourism,” said Morente. “However, this pandemic proved to counter all previous efforts,” he added.
“You can see the effect,” said Morente. “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 (will) be renewed as we work to fight this pandemic,” he stated.
Currently, foreign tourists are not yet allowed to enter the country. “We hope that COVID-19 (will) be resolved soon, so we may revive the tourism economy which was badly hit by this pandemic,” he said. By Willy M. Balasa