The declining number of Chinese tourists in the country is not related to the controversial move to ban the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations, but with China's no-tourist policy, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
Albay Representative Joey Salceda presented the data during the House Committee on Labor and Employment hearing, stating that the number of Chinese in the country was consistent with the drop in outbound Chinese tourists worldwide due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Based on the data shown in the panel, between 2019 and 2020, there was a drop of 90.2 percent in Chinese tourists bound for the Philippines, similar to the 88.4 percent decrease in Chinese tourists that traveled worldwide.
Meanwhile, in 2019 and 2022, the figures showed a 99.4 percent drop in Chinese tourists traveling the country, coinciding with the 94.5 percent drop in Chinese tourists that traveled abroad in the same period.
These figures were similar for Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates, two nations that also allow POGOs in their jurisdictions.
"Kitang-kita naman dito na wala naman diperensya kung may POGO ka o wala kang POGO," Salceda pointed out.
"Talaga naman wala namang turista pinapalabas ang China dahil sa zero Covid policy nila," he added.
According to the economist-lawmaker, China has been implementing a no-tourist policy.
He likewise explained that it was "highly speculative" for the National Economic Development Authority to relate POGOs with Chinese tourists and added that the Chinese Ambassador was quick to clarify the statements that were attributed to some government officials.
Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" said last week that China had placed the Philippines on a "blacklist" due to the presence of POGOs in the country. But the Chinese Embassy immediately issued a statement clarifying that the Philippines was not on a China blacklist.