China Lifts Ban on Philippines for Travellers Following Warming Relations

China has lifted all travel advisories issued to its citizens travelling to the Philippines, a Chinese foreign official said on Thursday. “President Xi Jinping has announced that China will lift the travel advisories issued a few years ago to Chinese citizens traveling to the Philippines. And this lift will encourage more Chinese citizens to travel in the Philippines,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said in a press conference in Beijing last week.

Before Duterte’s China state visit, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua had said both the Philippine and Chinese governments are targeting one million Chinese travellers to the Philippines by end of 2017. This would represent a doubling of 2015 numbers. According to experts, one million tourists can contribute $1 billion to the Philippine economy as Chinese tourists spend at least $1,000 on average. Last year, total arrivals from China reached 500,000 visitors. Total arrivals from China went up by over 24% last year.

The Chinese foreign official made the announcement after the signing of 13 bilateral cooperation agreements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The travel advisories were issued by China to its citizens following a bomb threat at the Chinese Embassy in Manila in September 2014. The lifting of travel advisories was made amid the four-day state visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in China.

Duterte, who put in place its new administration in July, has been looking to put aside conflict relations with its powerful neighbour, particularly over the question of the Spratly Islands. Disputes soared between both countries over the islands starting back to 2011.

(Source: Philippines News Agency)