THE good relationship between the Philippines and China has resulted in increased tourist arrival with the Chinese as the number one visitors of the country.
This is according to Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza who lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for opening the country to China.
Soon, Atienza said, China will dislodge South Korea as Philippine’s top supplier of foreign visitors.
Atienza added that this is because Duterte is unlocking the economic value of Chinese tourists
“In a matter of months, we could see China dislodging Korea as our No. 1 supplier of foreign tourists,” Atienza said.
“And there’s no question the surge in Chinese vacationers is due to President Duterte’s wisdom and foresight in reaching out to China, which has the world’s largest middle class with the disposable income to travel overseas,” Atienza added.
Atienza said foreign tourists create a huge demand for goods and services that we as a country have ample supply of, so our economy is benefiting in a big way from the influx of Chinese visitors.
“The Philippines and China have long had very warm people to people relations, considering our extensive Chinese ancestry, so we definitely welcome the surge in Chinese holidaymakers,” Atienza said.
For the purpose of boosting cultural exchanges, Atienza, when he was mayor of Manila in 2005, forged a sister city relationship with Beijing under then-Mayor Wang Qishan, who has since ascended as China’s vice president.
China’s 430 million middle class population is 12 times larger than the 34 million middle class headcount of Korea, which for years has been the Philippines’ leading supplier of foreign visitors.
“If just one percent of the 430 million Chinese (middle class population) come in as tourists in a year, that means 4.3 million extra visitors,” Atienza pointed out.
China dislodged the United States for the first time as the Philippines’ second-biggest supplier of foreign visitors in 2017, according to the Department of Tourism (DoT).
DOT statistics show that the Philippines received a total of 6,620,908 foreign visitors in 2017, up 11 percent from 5,967,006 in 2016.
The number of Chinese visitors surged by 43.33 percent to 968,447 in 2017 from 675,663 million in 2016.
Meanwhile, Korean tourists jumped by nine percent to 1,607,821 from 1,475,081 in 2016, while American travelers increased by 10.16 percent to 957,813 from 869,463.
The rapid growth in Chinese tourists continued in the first two months of 2018.
From January to February, Chinese visitors to the Philippines soared by 56.44 percent to 256,880, while Korean vacationers jumped by 16.30 percent to 354,700.
A total of 1,406,337 foreigners visited the Philippines in the two-month period, up 16.15 percent from 1,210,817 in the same period in 2016, the DoT said.
This year, the DoT hopes to draw in 7.4 million foreign tourists, including 1.5 million from China.
Besides Korea, China and the United States, the Philippines’ top suppliers of foreign visitors are Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Canada, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia.