IN a bid to repair strained relations with China, Philippines’ president Rodrigo Duterte is ready to offer visa-free travel to Chinse citizens. He disclosed this ahead of his three-day state visit to China on October 18.
A visa waiver entitles visitors to enter the Philippines and stay in the country from 14 days to a maximum of 150 days. Such a visa waiver, however, must be reciprocal, and would necessitate Beijing to extend the same visa-free privilege to Filipino travelers entering China.
The president pointed out that the visa waiver would enable the Philippines to capture a huge chunk of the Chinese tourist market, a segment of the industry that’s growing rapidly owing to a growing Chinese middle class.
According to data from the website of China National Tourism Administration, the Philippines ranked 11th in top source travel markets of China, with more than a million arrivals, up 3.7 percent from 2014.
However, the Philippines leader – notorious for his brutal drug crackdown – was also concerned with the number of Chinese drug lords arrested in the Philippines, and other China-based criminals who may take advantage of such visa-free privileges.
The Philippine government currently offers visa-free privileges to tourists from nearly 50 countries including member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and island states around the world.
It was also recently announced that China is offering visa-free entry for selected Filipino passport holders traveling to Taiwan.
Applicants who have been issued entry visas to any one of the following countries – Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States or any of the Schengen countries – can qualify for the visa exemption.
Meanwhile, Japan will relax visa rules for Chinese visitors to boost repeat arrivals. Multi-entry visas for short-term stays with business purposes, or by cultural figures and intellectuals will go up to 10 years, a bump up from the current five-year allowance.