603,000 Chinese have visited PH, still below target
MANILA, Philippines — The continuing influx of Chinese tourists could fuel the country’s bid to host 8.2 million visitors this year, according to the latest data from the Department of Tourism (DOT).
In April alone, 139,177 Chinese tourists visited the country, or 21 percent of the 662,987 foreign arrivals.
The number was 26.77 percent higher than the 109,789 recorded in April last year.
China — with its 602,981 visitors from January to April — also posted the fastest growth among the country’s top tourism markets with a 25.04-percent growth in arrivals for the first four months of the year.
Korea still top market
But South Korea remained the country’s top tourism market, with 650,291 Koreans visiting the country, or 22.68 percent of the total foreign arrivals for the first four months of the year.
Joining South Korea and China in the country’s top tourism markets were the United States (381,490), Japan (235,493) and Taiwan (103,349).
The DOT spokesperson, Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., welcomed the rise in the number of Chinese visitors after the country’s arrivals target fell short of expectations last year because of the closure of Boracay Island.
Critics, however, questioned the influx of Chinese nationals, especially those who have been found to be working illegally in the country, competing with the 3.7 million unemployed Filipinos.
“We don’t make any distinction if people come here for leisure purposes or any other purposes,” Bengzon said.
DOT data showed that foreign visitor count from January to April totaled 2,867,551, up by 8.57 percent. This is slower compared with last year’s growth rate of 12.35 percent.
8th among Asean nations
According to data from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the Philippines ranked a dismal eighth among the ten countries in the region where Chinese tourists went for their vacation.
In 2017, only 9.7 million Chinese tourists visited the country—or just 3.8 percent of the 25 million Chinese who visited Asean nations—with the Philippines just outpacing Brunei and Laos.
Favorite vacation spots
Top Asean destinations for Chinese are Thailand at 9.8 million, and Vietnam with a far 4 million.
China and Vietnam also have territorial disputes over parts of the South China Sea, with the former claiming the entire body of water within its highly disputed nine-dash line.
Citing numbers from the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Chinese tourists made more than 140 million international trips last year, and spent a total of $120 billion, or P6 trillion.
Singapore, the country’s No. 9 market, posted a 14.24-percent decline at 51,361 arrivals from January to April compared with the same period last year. Malaysian visitors, who are at No. 10, also declined by 0.28 percent at 48,722.
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