Chinese Tourists Boost Visitor Arrivals in Philippines

Warming relations between China and the Philippines start to have an effect. Chinese travellers tourists were mostly behind the 16.5 percent increase in visitor arrivals in January 2017, according to data from the Philippines Department of Tourism.

Statistics from the DOT show that Chinese visitor arrivals  jumped by some 76.5 percent to 85,948 in January 2017, the largest growth recorded among Philippines twelve top markets.

This huge leap helped boosting the total number of tourists who visited the country to 631,639, from the 542,258 who arrived in January 2016.

“We are now seeing the fruits of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s reaching out to China. Doors to more economic opportunities and people-to-people exchanges are wider more than ever, now that ties between Manila and Beijing have seen a new day,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo said in a statement. The large growth in Chinese visitors in January pushed China to the third largest inbound market in the Philippines.

“We have to keep the momentum going now that we are in the implementation phase of the National Tourism Development Plan [NTDP] for 2016-2022, which aims to unleash the potentials of our tourism industry and make it more competitive,” Teo said. She said a lot of impetus was already gained by the country’s successful hosting of the Miss Universe beauty pageant on January 30.

According to the NTDP, the Duterte administration is targeting to attract 6.5 million foreign visitors in 2017, rising annually to 12 million by 2022.

South Korea still remained the largest source of visitors for the Philippines, rising by some 4.9 percent to 154,367. This was followed by the United States at 99,435 (up 17.7 percent); China; Japan, 51,516 (up 23.6 percent); and Australia, 27,826 (up 10.1 percent). However, there was an almost 30-percent drop in visiting balikbayan or Philippine passport holders permanently residing abroad (excluding overseas Filipino workers), according to DOT data.

Other top sources of tourists in January 2017 were Canada at 24,352 (up 15.4 percent); Taiwan, 21,926 (up 41.3 percent); the UK, 15,747 (up 4.5 percent); Singapore, 12,000 (down by 10.5 percent); and India, 11,805 (up 31.84 percent). India makes its first appearance in the list of top visitor markets of the Philippines edging out Malaysia, 10,215 (down 7.7 percent); Hong Kong, 10,006 (up 23.04 percent); and Germany, 8,917 (up 7 percent).