PH eyes electronic visas to boost tourism from India, China
MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Tourism (DOT) has hosted a high-level convergence meeting to discuss visa reforms aimed at increasing entry into the country for international tourists, particularly from India and China.
The meeting comes as the DOT seeks to explore travel mechanisms, primarily an e-visa system, to increase entry into the country for Indian nationals, an important and growing market for the Philippines.
Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco emphasized the importance of the Indian tourist market, noting that 58% of Indian visitors are repeat travelers. India has risen from being an opportunity market to an important market source of foreign visitors for the Philippines.
Frasco sees electronic visas (e-visas) as a way to make travel seamless and boost entry from India.
“We are the only country that presently does not provide the convenient electronic visa for Indian nationals. This is a huge market that the Philippines has yet to explore,” said the tourism chief.
The DOT also highlighted the potential of the Chinese market, as China currently has a population of over 1.4 billion, with 160 million Chinese citizens traveling to various countries.
In 2019, China was the country’s second largest source of inbound tourists, producing more than 1.7 million arrivals and translating to P2.33 billion in tourism receipts.
However, airlines have reported that the consular posts in China have issued advisories limiting visa applications to only 60 to 100 per day, the DOT said.
To meet the low target of half a million Chinese tourists, 1,704 visas need to be issued per day. For a medium target of a million Chinese tourists, 3,409 visas per day are needed, while a high target of two million Chinese tourists would require 6,818 visas per day.
Frasco emphasized the need to issue more visas to achieve their desired target of two million Chinese tourists.
The DOT also recommended simplifying the process requirements for Waiver of Exclusion Ground (WEG) and exemption of qualified students to apply for Special Study Permit (SSP) for the English as a Second Language (ESL) industry. The country is also anticipating 139 ports of call for cruise tourism with over 117,000 passengers pegged for 2023 alone.
The convergence meeting included representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Immigration, and other government agencies.
The meeting aimed to address the bottlenecks preventing the Philippines from fully unlocking the potential of international tourism.
The DFA and DICT committed to supporting the DOT in its efforts to boost the country’s tourism. The meeting concluded with a commitment to build and implement an e-visa system, as well as easing of other factors discussed, in the hope of achieving immediate results for the implementation of the e-visa system and the easing of other factors that were discussed.
The DOT sees the implementation of e-visas as a way to make travel seamless and unlock the full potential of international tourism in the Philippines. The reforms are expected to boost the country’s tourism industry, which generated approximately P2.7 trillion in 2019, contributing 12.7% to the country’s GDP.
1.15 million international tourist arrivals in Q1 2023