LONG-STANDING political tensions were no barrier for Chinese travellers looking for sun, surf and gaming as arrivals from China to the Philippines surged a dramatic 69.9 per cent year-on-year in 2013.
Travel consultants said this affirmed the Philippines’ appeal as a top beach destination. Oliver Sison, general manager at Far Eastern Travel Agency, said Chinese travellers love the beach and “primarily Boracay and (its) party atmosphere”.
China was the Philippines’ fourth biggest source market according to Department of Tourism (DoT) statistics, totalling 426,352 arrivals and a 9.1 per cent total market share in 2013.
DoT attributed this to better air connections and more cruise itineraries, which together supported the NTO’s “aggressive marketing activities” in cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xiamen and Beijing.
Gambling is also proving to be a strong attraction, especially in Manila. Said Sison: “Resorts World Manila is (in Manila), Solaire (Resort & Casino) has just opened, and City of Dreams is under construction. That’s a step in the right direction if we want more of the Chinese market.”
Miggie Macasinag, general manager of Roman International Travel and Tours, concurred, sharing that two fully booked charters from Xiamen to Legazpi City in Bicol were organised recently for Misibis Bay Resort, with the main draw being the resort's newly added gambling facilities.
The Philippines welcomed 4.7 million foreign visitors in 2013, surpassing the 4.3 million recorded in 2012 by 9.6 per cent despite the devastating earthquake and super typhoon that hit late last year.
Taiwan's travel ban on the Philippines cut arrivals by 35.8 per cent, particularly from June to September. Taiwan became the Philippines’ seventh largest source, down from fifth place in 2012.