THE Department of Tourism (DOT) lauded China’s lifting of an official advisory to its citizens against travelling to the Philippines in the wake of the international court’s ruling affirming the country’s claim over West Philippine Sea.
Beijing announced it was relaxing the moratorium on Thursday, the third day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s State Visit, accompanied by his Cabinet officials including Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo.
“As head of the DOT, the Chinese government’s gesture means all the world to me. It deserves the Filipino people’s accolades, especially those of the tourism stakeholders who stand to benefit from the increased influx of visitors from all over China,” Teo said.
Although the prospects of Chinese arrivals appeared uncertain immediately following the Beijing’s travel restriction amidst the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague, Teo said Chinese visitors, in fact, continued to come to the Philippines.
“The People’s Republic of China’s invitation to Duterte for state visit signaled a massive potential for tourism exchange, as well as momentous diplomatic relations between PRC and the Philippines,” Teo exclaimed.
Ending the removal of the advisory was among several agreements reached during Duterte’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at the Great Hall of the People Thursday.
China issued several travel warnings since the end of naval standoff at the Scarborough Shoal in 2012.
Beijing has since controlled the rich fishing grounds even after a United Nations-backed arbitration court sided with Manila.
Chinese arrivals to the Philippines reached 490,841 in 2015, at least 24.28 percent higher than the 2014 recorded arrivals of 394,951.
From January to July this year, a total of 422,801 Chinese tourists have visited the Philippines, placing third with 11.95 percent of the market share, following Korea and the US.
Teo said more organized tours from mainland China are scheduled within the next two months, following the visit of 2000 tourists from Guanzou to Boracay on board Royal Caribbean cruise ship Legend of the Seas.
“We target 12 million annual international visitor arrival in 2022. Hopefully, we would no longer lag far behind our Asian neighbors in terms of tourism” Teo said.