By Conrado Ching
02/28/2010 [ tribune.net.ph ]
Members of the different foreign chambers in the Philippines have expressed their support to the passage of the proposed Philippine immigration act now pending in Congress, saying it will draw more tourists and investors into the country.
At a meeting with Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Marcelino Libanan recently, officials of the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines said the proposed bill will encourage even more foreigners to visit and do business in the country as it will make the immigration law more responsive to world trends in tourism and economic development.
Speaking for the group, Robert Sears, American Chamber of Commerce executive director, noted the proposed law provides for additional visa clarifications for foreigners, thus making it easier for them to get visas according to their needs, activities, professions or line of business.
Sears said a new immigration act will make the country an attractive magnet for tourism and economic developments as foreigners wanting to stay and put up businesses will have wider choices to choose what type of visas they want.
He added aside from being a prime tourist and investment destination, the Philippines will also be a top destination for medical tourism as more foreigners would prefer to undergo medical treatment here.
“The members of the Joint Foreign Chambers liked the provisions in the new immigration law because these could apply to medical tourists who need to extend their stay here while undergoing medical treatment,” Sears said.
The visitors also briefed Libanan on their Retirement and Healthcare Coalition, a non-stock, non-profit organization that promotes the availment of retirement and healthcare facilities in the Philippines.
BI Technical Staff chief Patch Arbas said the BI supports the group’s initiative as it encourages foreigners to avail themselves of the country’s medical facilities and its program for foreign retirees.
“Under the proposed bill, medical tourists may now be given an initial stay of six months instead of the existing two-month initial extension,” Arbas said.
The others who met Libanan were Henry Schumacher, executive vice president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines; Nonuo Fujii, vice president of Japan Chamber of Commerce; Edward Eun-Gap Chang, president of Korean Chamber of Commerce, and Korean businessman Kim Young Ki.