The Philippines Government looks now at providing Chinese travellers with visa-on-arrival formalities, a move which would herald a new era of growth for the tourism industry in the country.
While the Rodrigo Duterte administration in the Philippines is far of generating unanimity, there is one positive act that can entirely be attributed to the country’s populist president: the warming up of political and economic relations with China.
Last October, just three months after taking over the power at the new Philippines President, a state visit of Rodrigo Duterte to Beijing marked a significant improvement in the relationship with the powerful -and rich- northeastern neighbour. Relations are getting better as both sides agreed to move on from a bitter row over islands in the South China Sea into cooperation.
China media reported recently an announcement from the Department of Tourism State Secretary Wanda Teo Corazon that the country does study the possibility to introduce a visa on arrival for Chinese travellers. According to Zaobao.com and China Radio International, the measure would be introduced during the year.
Besides making it easier for the Chinese tourists to get visas, the Department of Tourism is also planning to stage more tourism promotions tailored to Chinese tourists besides increasing the number of charter flights from China to the Philippines.
They are only five Chinese cities -excluding Hong Kong and Macau- being currently served out of Manila with four Chinese and three Filipino carriers offer up to 16 daily services between both countries. Guangzhou and Xiamen have the most flights with four to five daily frequencies followed by Shanghai with up to four daily flights and Beijing with up to three daily frequencies. Chengdu has three non-stop services per week to Manila. Cebu is linked by only three weekly flights to Xiamen.
According to official data recently issued by the Philippines’ Department of Tourism, China had replaced Japan as the third largest source of tourists in 2016. Total arrivals from China reached 675,663, representing a market share of 11.32%. By allowing visa-on-arrival facilities for China, the Philippines are aiming to attract one million Chinese tourists to the country this year and looks to see China becoming Philippines largest market before the end of the decade.