DoT eases travel restrictions for Chinese tourists

The Philippines, led by no less than Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, mounted a warm welcome for arriving Chinese tourists on Tuesday, 24 January, in celebration of the Chinese New Year and the continuous influx of visitors from the mainland.

Frasco personally welcomed the batch of visitors arriving onboard Xiamen Airlines flight MF819, together with China’s Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, Manila International Airport Authority general manager Cesar Chiong, and Xiamen Air general manager of Manila Office Yan Tan.

The party made sure the guests, about 190 passengers who departed from  Xiamen past 2 p.m. and arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 at 4:55pm, were greeted with the world-renowned Filipino hospitality.

The visitors were also presented with leis and gifts from the DoT, MIAA, the Chinese embassy and the Filipino-Chinese private stakeholders organization.

The welcome ceremony was made even more colorful and lively by Filipino bamboo orchestra musicians.

“The arrival of Chinese tourists to the Philippines signals a very auspicious start to the New Year and indicates a positive result of President Bongbong Marcos Jr.’s state visit to China to further the relations between our countries,” Frasco said.

“We anticipate even more Chinese tourists to arrive which will greatly help us in our efforts to transform and to recover the tourism industry as our intention is not only to regain our pre-pandemic numbers but to exceed it knowing how the relationship between the Philippines and China will only further improve in the years to come with the stance of both our governments,” the tourism chief added.

The Philippines thus became the latest country to welcome Chinese tourists after China lifted restrictions for outbound travels of its nationals. Such move is seen to positively impact economies as China remains one of the world’s top sources of foreign tourists with high visitor spending.

“We believe that with the development of our tourism cooperation that there will be a growing number of Chinese tourists coming to the Philippines to enjoy the beauty of this country,” remarked Xilian

“The recent state visit of President (Ferdinand Marcos)  to China, both presidents of China and the Philippines have agreed to make people-to-people exchanges as one of the four areas of cooperation and of course during the visits, our  tourism cooperation was actually signed so I think that today’s event is also one of the measures to implement the agreement reached by our two leaders,” Xilian added.

Meanwhile, the country is among the 20 nations identified by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism to be part of its pilot areas for outbound tourism group tours. The Philippines joined neighboring Southeast Asian nations Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and Laos. Sri Lanka, the Maldives, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Argentina, Cuba, and Fiji are also among them.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the government of the People’s Republic of China for identifying the Philippines as one of the first 20 countries where group tours are allowed. The Philippines is open and ready to welcome our friends from China as we continue to improve the relationship between our two nations which spans millennia,” said Frasco.

“ We welcome you to the Philippines and we cannot wait to let you feel the warmth of the Filipino people and to enjoy our award-winning beach destinations and all our nature-based offerings. The Philippines is a country blessed with many islands, a wealth of cultural offerings, wonderful food, and the warmth of the Filipino people. And we look forward to all of you visiting our country,” Frasco added.

The Philippines recorded  8.26 million – an all-time high — international visitor arrivals in 2019. Around that time, China was the second biggest number of visitors with 1.7 million tourists.

But the Chinese government has since imposed lockdown measures and outbound Chinese tourists declined over time.

This year, an upward trend of arrivals has been observed that as of 24 January, Chinese comprised 10th biggest tourist arrivals with 6,673 visitors. That is almost half or 45.68 percent visiting the country for holiday or pleasure.

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