Philippines move to ease visa process for UAE visitors

Consul-General said recommendations had been sent to encourage more visitor arrivals to Philippines

18:39 November 6, 2017
NAT_171106 traditional dance _JL

Dubai: The Philippine Consulate-General in Dubai is recommending ways to the Philippine government to quicken the visa application processes for visitors from the UAE, a top diplomat said on Sunday.

While many nationals do not need a visa to enter the Philippines such as UAE and GCC nationals, most EU citizens, Americans, Southeast Asians, and Japanese if they are staying for less than a month, there are other nationalities who still need to secure visas like Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese, and Sri Lankans, among others.

Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes said the processing time for visa application currently takes between five and 10 days. But this is something they are working to reduce to encourage more visitor arrivals to the Philippines from the UAE and GCC.

“Many expats in the GCC (particularly South Asians) need a visa to enter the Philippines, and the Philippines is working on a more convenient visa processing period for these nationals,” Cortes said on Sunday on the sidelines of the launch of Dream Philippines, a consulate-led campaign to boost visitor arrivals to the Philippines.

Cortes said visa applications in the consulate had increased through the years from 2013. The consulate processed 23,247 visa applications from 2013 to October 31, 2017, including multiple-entry visas.

Philippine visitor arrivals reached a total of 2,882,737 from January to May 2017, up by 14.43 per cent compared to the same period in 2016, figures from the Department of Tourism reveal. Of this, only 1.25 per cent came from the Middle East.

To boost tourist arrivals to the country, Cortes said the consulate has partnered with Tabeer Tourism to offer curated holiday packages to showcase the Philippines’ “hidden beauty” to UAE and GCC residents and to let them see this “paradise” with their own eyes.

“We wish to spur the interest of the GCC market and the UAE expat community in looking at the Philippines as a viable tourist destination. This time, the consulate wishes to supplement our tourism efforts because as far as marketing our country is concerned, it must take more than a single approach,” Cortes said.

Marhoum Bilal, a documentary producer who recently visited the Philippines, agreed that the country has a lot to offer from its pristine beaches to lush forests to rugged terrains, among others. Bilal visited the islands of Cebu, Bohol, and Palawan and produced a video of his trip that has left him mesmerised.

“The Philippines has a way of casting a spell on you. I know, I felt it,” he said.

During the launch, the spotlight was on the Filipino culture with the Maranao Dance Troupe performing the ‘singkil’, a traditional dance in Southern Philippines.

Organisers raffled off a few sets of the Barong Tagalog, the Philippine national dress, along with holiday packages to the Philippines.

To know the full list of nationals with visa-free status, please visit