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Philippines prepares for renewed Chinese interest as tensions cool
Rosa Ocampo, Manila, October 26, 2016

Chinese arrivals into the Philippines is set to rekindle following the thawing of political tensions between the South-east Asian nation and China, prompting the latter to lift a longstanding travel advisory against its neighbour.


Tourism secretary Wanda Teo, part of a delegation that accompanied Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte on a state visit to China earlier this month, said she is looking to double arrivals from China to one million this year and to two million thereafter.


Molo Church, or Church of St Anne Parish, is a Spanish colonial church and heritage site in Iloilo, Philippines

Teo is preparing for the bonanza by coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Bureau of Immigration to simplify visa application procedures for Chinese tourists, including visa on-arrival, e-visa facilities and launching Mandarin language training programmes for tour guides.


She expects big tour groups from China over the next two months as cancelled chartered flights resume, and as more flights connecting the two destinations, including the twice-weekly China Eastern Airlines chartered services from Guangzhou to Laoag, Ilocos Norte takes off on November 1.


Teo also met with Chinese businesses who are willing to invest in Philippine tourism infrastructure including in areas like Iloilo, Subic and other tourism zones offering incentives such as tax relief.


Rajah Travel Corp president Aileen Clemente said two million yearly arrivals from China is feasible “if the visa facilitation, infrastructure and permits are in place”.


Clemente, who also helms ASEANTA, added: “It is an opportune time to improve the relationship with China, especially since the tension (arising from) the territorial dispute and with ASEAN cooperating with China”.


Hannah Paula Yulo, director of sales & marketing at Paradise Garden Resort Hotel & Convention Center in Boracay, said that while it’s doable to double the arrivals from China this year, the country needs to increase its capacity.


Boracay is the prime destination for Chinese travellers but Yulo pointed out that the existing hotels on the island resort already can’t cope with demand.

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