DIFFICULTY obtaining visas and insufficient marketing are the main hurdles facing agents when trying to attract more Chinese tourists to the Philippines, according to those interviewed at the recent Asia Premium Travel Mart held in Manila.
“It’s very, very difficult for Chinese travellers to get a visa to the Philippines because of the tedious application and processing requirements. It’s easier for them to get a visa to the US,” commented Gary Mo, director of marketing for Guangzhou-based All Perfect Tour.
Boracay, the Philippines
He added: “China is very big but the Philippines only has a limited number of consulate offices there.”
While agreeing, Liu Lulu, operations manager of Beijing-based U Plus Club, said it helps that the Philippines now allows visa-on-arrival for Chinese nationals who were granted visa to the US and some other countries before.
Mary Ann Ong, general manager of Manila-based Luxus Pacific Travel and Tours, also pointed out that while the Philippines already grants group visas to the Chinese, there’s no need for that in other destinations like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand as they offer the more convenient visa-on-arrival facility.
Meanwhile, marketing spend was reduced last year owing to political tussles between the two countries.
But travel agents are clamouring for more Philippine visibility in China. “There must be increased promotion especially on social media,” said Liu.
Ong concurs, saying that except for Boracay, Philippine destinations aren’t that well-known in China. “We’re not allotting enough budget for marketing,” she asserts.
For Mo, who also believes that more needs to be done, his agency has taken matters into their own hands by chartering flights to the Philippines and launching his own marketing campaigns in China without any support from authorities.