April 4, 2020

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) is encouraging the public to “travel from home” by providing virtual backgrounds that people can feature in video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Webex, and many more.

The photos can be downloaded from for free and will allow users to showcase the beautiful landscapes of the Philippines from the safety and comfort of one’s home.

The “Travel From Home” virtual backgrounds take you to some of the most popular travel spots in the country and are arranged to reflect the relevant times of day do you can have your early morning meeting with a glorious mountain sunrise and your evening one with a golden beach sunset.

The DOT reminds everyone that while our destinations miss you, it’s vital that you stay at home as much as possible during the community quarantine so you can return to your favorite places in the Philippines soon.





Fil-Am director Dean Devlin’s ‘Almost Paradise’ is the first-ever American TV series shot in the Philippines

Featured Content by Asian Journal Press

March 30, 2020

Christian Kane, Samantha Richelle and Arthur Acuña star in WGN America’s “Almost Paradise.” | Photo courtesy of Electric Entertainment

The first-ever American TV series filmed entirely in the Philippines debuts on Monday, March 30 on WGN America.

“Almost Paradise” is an action-thriller show created, written and produced by award-winning Filipino American filmmaker Dean Devlin.

Known for his work on “Independence Day,” “Godzilla, “Leverage,” and “The Librarians,” this is Devlin’s first project involving his Filipino roots.

The series is centered around Alex Walker (Christian Kane, “The Librarians” and “Angel”), a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who goes into early retirement and moves to a beach in the Philippines he remembers visiting years ago. Alex finds himself drawn into cases where he uses his skills as a longtime operative to put away the bad guys that cross his path.

The idea came to Devlin during his honeymoon in Hawaii some 14 years ago when the local news had a story about residents capturing a drug dealer on their own.

“It just got me thinking about island justice, island culture and island spirituality. I always said, ‘I really would like to write something about that,’” Devlin told the Asian Journal. “Over the years, I thought, ‘Why do it in Hawaii?’ I’m half Filipino and I’ve never done anything connected to my own culture so when the idea came to put this story in the Philippines then things started to accelerate quite quickly.”

Beyond the “poverty porn” and other stereotypical notions people may have about the Philippines, Devlin didn’t want to make the storyline about the current political climate and the controversial drug war.

“To be able to bring things from the culture — the looks, the costumes, the traditions — and put that seamlessly in a very American show…one of the goals here is not to say that Filipinos are the other. The goal is to say Filipinos are us and we’re all part of the same beautiful community,” he said.

Filipino American producer and filmmaker, Dean Devlin. | Photo courtesy of Electric Entertainment

As for the challenges that came with filming in the country, Devlin joked, saying “The better question is what wasn’t the challenge?” His production company, Electric Entertainment, partnered with ABS-CBN and built a soundstage at Bigfoot Studios in Cebu.

Thankfully, the production had finished and left the Philippines before the government stopped international flights because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We literally wrapped production 18 hours before they stopped the international flights. It was crazy. It felt like we were on the top of that building in Saigon during the fall of Vietnam trying to get the last helicopter out. But we finished the season,” Devlin said.

The 10-episode series, shot in the island of Cebu, features a predominantly Filipino cast and crew. Actors Samantha Richelle and Arthur Acuña star as detectives Kai Mendoza and Ernesto Alamares, respectively.

When Devlin and Kane took a trip to Manila to scout local talent, Richelle auditioned for the role of Kai Mendoza upon the recommendation of Dela Torre and blew them away.

Samantha Richelle as Kai Mendoza in “Almost Paradise.” | Photo courtesy of Electric Entertainment

“In me preparing for the role of Kai, I literally fell in love with her…She’s such a ballsy character, but yet also very sympathetic. It was just amazing to be able to delve into that,” Richelle told the Asian Journal, adding that a week before filming began, she did combat training and learned how to shoot.

“You’ll see in the show, every episode we pushed a little bit farther on [how] she can go as an actor and every time we raised the expectations, Samantha reached it. This character really develops over the course of the season and this is no easy acting job,” Devlin said. “She’s really the breakout actor on this show.”

Filmmakers Francis Dela Torre, Hannah Espia, Dan Villegas and Irene Villamor directed several episodes; meanwhile, Pao Orendain served as director of photography and Digo Ricio as production designer.

“This is a very intense American way of doing a TV series…This crew was amazingly responsive because this was not in their comfort zone at all. It’s not the way that they do shows in the Philippines. They were all eager to learn [and]…they all kind of wanted to show what they could do,” Devlin added.

With more Filipino faces on an American network, Devlin sees it as a way to usher in more Filipino representation.

“There’s been a wonderful explosion of diversity in entertainment over the last few years. But the Asian community in general — and the Filipino community in specific — has really been left behind that. We wanted to be part of the energy that’s correcting that and part of pushing us into the spotlight and saying, ‘Hey, take a look. I think you’re gonna like what you see,’” he said.

“Almost Paradise” airs on WGN America at 10 p.m. ET.



March 24, 2020

MANILA – At least 10,300 individuals, mostly foreign travelers affected by the enhanced community quarantine, have been assisted as of Tuesday, March 24, 2020 by the Department of Tourism (DOT), Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat disclosed.

A virtual COVID-19 command center coordinated the skeletal workforce of the DOT regional offices throughout the country.

From this number, 7,915 are tourists assisted through sweeper flights that transported stranded tourists from various destinations to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Clark International Airport, in joint efforts with Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Asia and Air Swift. Chartered flights were also made available to move stranded tourists.

“The Department of Tourism has been doing everything within its resources to ease the congestion in the different regions by facilitating the movement of foreign tourists stranded in the different islands of the country,” stressed Secretary Puyat.

Five sweeper flights carried stranded tourists out of Siargao to Clark Airport last Saturday and Sunday.

At least four sweeper flights will fly out of Boracay Island over the weekend, with two more scheduled on Thursday March 26. Meanwhile, additional sweeper flights will fly out of Iloilo, Tacloban, and Cagayan de Oro tomorrow, March 25.

Three sweeper flights are set to leave from Davao and Puerto Princesa on March 26.

Meanwhile, DOT regional offices are facilitating the transport of travelers by land in Luzon and by sea with inter-island vessels, like the Philippine Coast Guard boats used to sail tourists from the islands of Bohol, Siguijor, and Negros to Cebu.

Also arranged were shuttle services and hotel accommodations provided to some stranded tourists. Free food and hygienic items, called MalasaKits, were distributed at the NAIA terminals.


DOT Welcomes Lifting of Travel Ban For Outbound Passengers


18 March 2020

The Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomed the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to lift the 72-hour window for individuals departing overseas.

DOT coordinated with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employments to provide the joint guidelines for the lifting of the ban.

OFWs, Balikbayans, and foreign nationals will be allowed to leave at any time during the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon, provided they travel only to the airport within 24 hours of the date and time of their departure. Outgoing passengers must provide documents of their departure, such as an electronic ticket or flight itinerary.

Filipino citizens are strictly not allowed to take outbound international flight to countries where travel restrictions are in place. 

Outbound passengers may be accompanied only by one companion/driver to and from the airport, who shall likewise carry a copy of such e-ticket or itinerary. 

Select Hotels To Remain Open

Hotels and similar establishments shall remain closed under the guidelines of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, except for the following: 

1. those with foreign guests that have existing booking accommodations as of March 17, 2020;

2.those with checked-in guests on long-term leases; 

3.those accommodating employees from exempted establishments under the provisions of the March 16, 2020 Memorandum from the Executive secretary.

Hotels and similar establishments except for those classified in #3 above are not allowed to accept new bookings.

Assistance to All Tourists

The DOT has created a Tourism Airport Team to provide 24-hour service to tourists at airport including assistance in arranging flights, securing bookings, transportation, meals and accommodation. DOT is in close collaboration with local government unit (LGU) officers, local airport staff and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for this effort.

The Regional Offices of DOT have been proactive in informing tourism stakeholders such as hotels, island resorts, tour operators and local government units to communicate the intensified travel restrictions of the Enhanced Community Quarantine to foreign tourists in each destination, especially those in remote islands.

“The DOT is committed to working with all stakeholders, especially the LGUs and the inter-agency task force (IATF), in ensuring that the safety and the needs of our domestic and international tourists are addressed and resolved,” stated Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

Please visit the official Philippines travel advisory website for more updates.



Philippine Travel Advisory

March 14, 2020

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its travelers. Please be guided by the major updates regarding travel-related activities in the Philippines.

Under the stringent Social Distancing Measures being imposed in the National Capital Region (NCR) for 30 days starting 00:00 AM of 15 March 2020 until 00:00 AM of 14 April 2020, the following will apply:

● All land, domestic air and domestic sea travel to and from the NCR are restricted.

● All departing passengers shall be allowed transit through the NCR, provided that proof of confirmed international travel itinerary, scheduled within twelve (12) hours from entry, is presented at checkpoints. However, outbound travel to countries where travel restrictions are in place remains prohibited.

● All travel restrictions previously issued shall remain in effect. Current travel restrictions imposed are on foreign travel to and from China, including its Special Administrative Regions (SARs) Hong Kong and Macau, and the North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea including Daegu and Cheongdo

● Travellers from Iran and Italy (except Filipino citizens, including their foreign spouse and children, if any, and holders of Permanent Resident Visas or 9(e) Diplomatic Visas issued by the Philippine Government) shall be required to present a medical certificate issued by competent medical authorities within forty-eight (48) hours immediately preceding departure signifying that they have tested negative for COVID-19.

● The various local government units (LGUs) of destinations in the Philippines are required to abide by the directives of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the imposition of general community quarantine guidelines in their respective jurisdictions.

As such, some destinations may already restrict tourists from entering in order to contain and prevent further spread of the virus.

● Mass gatherings such as movie screenings, concerts, sporting events and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work-related gatherings shall be prohibited

Please visit the official Philippines travel advisory website for more updates.





March 9, 2020

In light of recently reported community transmissions of COViD-19, the Department of Tourism (DOT) calls on all tourism industry stakeholders to remain calm, to be constantly updated and to report suspected cases to local health authorities.

The DOT defers to the Department of Health (DOH) as lead agency of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, for decisions and announcements pertaining to the COVID-19 concern.

Needless to say, the DOT has the safety and well-being of visitors and locals as its utmost priority. As such, it will continue to coordinate and work closely with the IATF, partners from other government agencies and the private sector to mitigate the impact of the disease.

The DOT continuously issues health protocols for the airports, hotel establishments and tour operators to cascade guidelines to make sure that precautionary measures are in place in order to contain the spread of the virus in the country. Among those measures include thermal scanners at the entrance, provision of hand sanitizers and food preparation based on global Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) standards. DOT-accredited hotels are continuously cleaning and sanitizing premises, particularly the common and frequently used areas.

Tourists are directed to visit the DOT’s travel advisory bulletin at in order to know the consolidated efforts of the Philippine tourism industry to contain the spread of the COVID-19 and maintain the safety and well-being of visitors.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat likewise enjoins the industry to extend any assistance possible to affected tourists in their respective areas.


DOT welcomes lifting of Taiwan travel ban


February 14, 2020

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Department of Tourism (DOT) welcomes the lifting of the travel ban on Taiwan to minimize the impact of the nCov global scare on the local tourism industry.

“The lifting of the travel ban on Taiwan is highly assuring and we hope that the nCov crisis would soon be resolved, worldwide. Ultimately, the recovery of all affected countries is a universal prayer, especially that tourism is an inclusive and sustainable business for and of the people,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette-Romulo-Puyat.

The temporary ban on Taiwan was lifted by the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases after it was established that Taiwan has been implementing very strict and excellent protocols in handing travelers.

The Task Force underscores the need to review on a regular basis how the Philippines’ source countries heighten precautionary measures and implement stricter protocols to contain the corona virus disease (COVID-19).

Taiwan is the country’s fifth largest tourist source market raking up an impressive double-digit increase of 37.07 percent for its 305,570 arrivals in Jan. to Nov. 2019.

All preventive and precautionary measures have been put in place by the national government to contain the spread of the COVID-19. The guidelines in handling guests in tourism enterprises during this global emergency are being implemented in hotels and resorts around the country and facilities are equipped with infrared thermometers and more hand sanitizers.

The temporary entry ban for tourists coming from China, its Special Administrative Regions (SARs), Hong Kong and Macau, and the 14-day quarantine for Filipinos coming from the said places is still in effect.

Meanwhile, the tourism sector rallied behind the DOT to mitigate impact on inbound tourism by rolling out a tactical program that will offer more value-added tour packages, discounted accommodation rates and marked-down prices for domestic flights.



CAB Order dated 2 February 2020, relating to the travel ban as contained in the Presidential directive of 2 February 2020, includes Taiwan.

Airlines are therefore directed to adopt proper measures and put in place appropriate systems to fully implement the temporary travel ban restricting the entry into the Philippines of the following persons coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

This Order applies to the following:

  • Temporary ban on entry into the Philippines of any person regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visas issued by the Philippine Government directly coming from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan;
  • Temporary ban on entry into the Philippines of any person regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visas issued by the Philippine Government, who within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, has been to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan;
  • Temporary ban on Filipinos from travel to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

Airlines directly operating between these territories and the Philippines, as well as those connecting to the Philippines via these territories are hereby reminded to strictly comply with the requirement to file with the Board any changes, revisions, cancellations of their flight schedule and to regularly update the Board on the status of these flights.

For strict compliance.
Done this 10th of February 2020.

Executive Director

DOT Statement Following the President’s Latest Directive to Contain the NCov

Media Release

February 2, 2020

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has immediately advised its foreign offices in China to relay to all stakeholders involved in bringing markets to the Philippines on the latest directive by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to temporarily ban “the entry of any person, regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visa issued by the Philippine Government, directly coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions”, Hong Kong and Macau, in order to contain the spread of the novel corona virus (NCov).

The directive also includes the following travel guidelines:

• Temporarily banning the entry of any person, regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of Permanent Resident Visa issued by the Philippine Government, who within fourteen (14) days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines, has been to China and its Special Administrative Regions;

• A mandatory fourteen (14) day quarantine for Filipinos and Permanent Resident Visa holders coming from any place in China and its Special Administrative Regions;

• Temporary ban on Filipinos from travel to China and its Special Administrative Regions

The DOT is coordinating with the travel trade sector in the Philippines to ensure the full implementation of this directive. As support to calls for precautionary measures, the Department has earlier released Guidelines in Handling Guests in Tourism Enterprises in the Advent of nCOV Global Health Emergency.

The DOT is in close coordination with all concerned government agencies and assures that precautionary steps are being taken to ensure the safety of Filipinos and travelers from other countries who are visiting the Philippines.

“The safety and protection of our citizens thriving in our tourist spots, the employees of the tourism sector, and domestic and foreign tourists alike remain the Department of Tourism’s priority. We call on everyone in the tourism industry to follow these directives until the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Philippine government deems it safe to resume travel to these parts.”, stated Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.


Statement of the Department of Tourism (DOT)

Media Release

January 31, 2020

In light of the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus (nCoV) in the Philippines, the Department of Tourism (DOT) urges the public, locals and foreign tourists alike, to take the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of contracting the virus.

The DOT is confident that the heightened interventions performed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) , the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and all concerned agencies operating in our international gateways, such as the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), will impede the spread of the nCoV in the country.

The DOT will continue to coordinate with tourism stakeholders and LGUs nationwide and underscore the value of taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the nCoV.

To ensure the safety and security of travelers and citizens, the DOT also calls on the travel trade partners, local health, police and security establishments, and other stakeholders to help provide proper guidance and assistance, when needed.

Our stakeholders will be advised of all protocols shared by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases led by the DOH especially in handling cases involving workforce and guests in our tourism enterprises.

“While the DOT is mandated to encourage, promote, and develop tourism as a major socio-economic activity, at this time our first priority is ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of all. We strongly urge the public to stay informed and abide by the suggested guidelines issued by our health department to minimize risk and help stem the spread of the coronavirus. For your safety, we ask for your full cooperation and understanding at this time,” said DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

Tourist arrivals up by 12.36 % in the first seven months


September 5, 2019

The Department of Tourism (DOT) reports that international inbound traffic for the first seven months remains robust, totaling 4,852,107 and posting a 12.36 percent increase over the same period last year.   

Korea remained as the top tourist market with 1,113,274 arrivals followed by China with 1,038,409.  The USA (663,116), Japan (382,634) and Taiwan (192,195) followed at third, fourth and fifth spots, respectively. 

Completing the top twelve markets are Australia (164,378), Canada (146,000), United Kingdom (125,371), Singapore (94,061), Malaysia (84,815), India (80,383) and Germany (62,179).     

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat owes the continued upsurge to the sustained support from industry stakeholders, government, host communities, investors and foreign travel trade counterparts.   

“We remain inspired knowing that private sector, other government agencies and civil society continue to support our sustainable tourism programs and the more fun brand campaign.  The Build, Build, Build program and other convergence programs, on the other hand, are key to improving our competitiveness and attractiveness,” the tourism chief said. 

“We enjoin more support for our sustainable tourism efforts not only in key destinations but in all areas to continually drive inbound traffic and spread the benefits of tourism to the countryside.  After all, tourism is everybody’s business,” Puyat said. 


DOT, GRAB launch eco-friendly “ride” in Intramuros


28 August 2019

Intramuros, Manila — Exploring historic Intramuros can now be more fun!

This, after the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Intramuros Administration (IA) and Grab Philippines forged a partnership that will launch “GrabWheels”,  a two-wheel, personal mobility device (PMD) that tourists can use to roam around  the picturesque Walled City.

In the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed today between IA and Grab, the latter committed the deployment of at least 30 units of GrabWheels, to be made available for the use of the public within Intramuros, free-of-charge for a period of three months.

“This is in keeping with the efforts of the DOT to inculcate a culture of sustainable tourism. This is what we envision to do to some, and ideally, to all of our destinations. We want visitors to have access to an eco-friendly but fun mode of transportation,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who was present during the MOU signing.

Puyat stressed, “Sustainability demands that our planning and resources management must be responsible. Conversely, it should also maintain a high level of satisfaction and ensure meaningful experience of our tourists. This partnership, hopefully, will raise their awareness about environmental issues and allow them to experience first-hand these sustainable tourism practices.”

Atty. Guiller Asido of the IA noted that these PMDs will provide less carbon footprintand likewise significantly reduce traffic congestion, a major problem in the area.

“This is just a pilot test. After a month, we will review its reception and determine the necessary mechanisms and setting of fees to make it sustainable,” said Asido.

Meanwhile, Grab also committed to promote Philippine tourism by disseminating tourism materials produced and developed by the DOT and its attached agencies through its massive fleet of operators.