The Philippines warmly received the first batch of Chinese tourists at the start of the Lunar New Year.
Tourism Secretary Kristina Frasco said the arrival of Chinese tourists to the Philippines signals am auspicious start to the New Year and indicates a positive result of the President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit to China to enhance the relations between the two countries.
“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,” she said.
The early batch of Chinese visitors made the Philippines the latest country to welcome their return for inbound travel after China lifted border restrictions. The move is seen to positively impact economies as China remains one of the world’s top sources of foreign tourists with high visitor spending.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said China believes that with the development of bilateral tourism cooperation between the Philippines and China, there will be a growing number of Chinese tourists coming to the Philippines on a regular basis.
“During the recent state visit of the President to China, both presidents have agreed to make people-to-people exchanges as one of the four already 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,” he said.
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, including its neighboring ASEAN nations Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos as well as Sri Lanka, the Maldives, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Argentina, Cuba and Fiji.
“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,” Frasco said.
“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,” she said.
At the time when the Philippines recorded an 8.26 million all-time high international visitor arrivals in 2019, China ranked as the second country with the most number of visitors brought to the Philippines hitting over 1.7 million visitors after South Korea. But COVID and lockdown measure greatly reduced and temporarily halt outbound Chinese tourists.
The Chinese travel market is seen to rebound when as of January 24, 2023, the world’s biggest market earned the 10th spot in terms of international tourist arrivals with 6,673 visitors with almost half or 45.68 percent visiting the country for holiday or pleasure.