China, Philippines put differences aside to boost tourism

Tourists ride a tram at Corregidor Island, located at the entrance of Manila Bay in the Philippines. Source: Shutterstock

DESPITE strained relations between China and the Philippines, the latter is projected to welcome more than a million Chinese visitors this year due to continuous efforts to foster tourism.

The Philippine Department of Tourism recorded a 75.6 percent spike in Chinese arrivals in January and is optimistic the figure will improve in the coming months as the two countries hammer out economic deals worth at least US$10 billion.

Government officials from both nations have tabled strategies to boost arrivals and engage with other tourism activities.

According to Philippine newspaper Business Mirror, the policies come on the heels of China’s President Xi Jinping’s promise to deliver at least two million visitors to the Philippines every year, as well as the recent launch of Asean-China Year of Tourism Cooperation 2017.

The publication said Chinese visa applications rose more than 250 percent in the first two months of the year.

SEE ALSO: Philippines is prepared to offer visa-free travel to Chinese tourists

All over Philippines, new resorts and hotels are popping up, both for leisure and business tourists. An improved investment climate in the country is also aiding the accommodation industry.

Three new integrated resort and casino operations in Pasay City, as well as a fourth project in the pipeline, are set to make the country’s gaming scene more attractive for Chinese visitors.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo said in a speech: “Through regional cooperation and diplomacy tourism, the goals to increase visitor arrivals, promote cultural exchanges, generate more livelihood for local people, improve infrastructure and diversify investment in tourism activities can be achieved between Asean and China.”

Last year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was ready to offer visa-free travel to Chinese citizens entering and staying in the country from 14 days to a maximum of 150 days.

SEE ALSO: What does ‘China-Australia Year of Tourism 2017’ mean for both countries?