PHL visa for Americans, can generate up to P6 Billion annual income

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Requiring Americans traveling to the Philippines to first secure a visa could easily generate US$125 million or P6 billion in extra annual revenue, a lawmaker backing the proposal said Tuesday.
In a statement, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s idea to require Americans to obtain a Philippine visa.

“There is nothing anti-American about seeking parity in travel stipulations. This is all about equality in treatment. Our people-to-people, business-to-business as well as government-to-government relations with the US remain sound,” Pimentel said.

At present, Filipinos traveling to America, regardless of purpose, have to apply for a US visa, pay a $160 to $265 non-refundable  application fee, and show up for a personal interview with a US vice consul, who may or may not issue a visa.

In contrast, Americans traveling to Manila enjoy visa-free entry into the Philippines for stays less than 30 days.

Pimentel said requiring visitors from the US to secure a visa with an application fee of $160 each would generate P6 billion in annual income.

A total of 779,217 Americans visited the Philippines in 2015, up 7.81 percent from the 722,750 that visited the country in 2014, according to Pimentel.

From January to August this year, a total of 584,149 Americans visited the Philippines.
Under the Visa Waiver Program of the US, citizens of 38 countries are allowed to travel to America for tourism, business, or while in transit for up to 90 days, without having to obtain a US visa.
Pimentel said the move to require visa applications would also help weed out criminal offenders attempting to enter Manila.

He said many American fugitives, including child sex offenders, have found it convenient to seek refuge in the Philippines.

“These fugitives easily blend into our communities because of our cultural affinity with America,” he said.

Pimentel said parity in administrative travel conditions between the Philippines and the United States could also be achieved if the US removes the requirement for Filipinos to apply for a US visa.

'Make it even'
While on a state visit in Beijing last month, Duterte said the Philippines should “make it even” with the US in terms of applying for a visa.

Duterte said he was once denied a visa when he planned to visit a girlfriend in college.
“The problem is, you go to America? You’ll not be issued a visa,” he stressed his point.
He shared that a local government official was also denied a visa although he was invited to an event by the US government itself.

“The poor man had to travel. He was in poor health. Pagdating dito [US Embassy], he was denied. Pero sila anytime. They enter the Philippines visa-free. Well, there will always be a time for reckoning. Bakit hindi natin tablahin?” Duterte said.

Sources: GMA News

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