MANILA, Philippines – With the country's friendlier ties with China, more Chinese tourists are coming to the Philippines.
The chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) revealed on Thursday, January 26, that the number of Chinese applying for a tourist visa to the Philippines has surged by 250% to 1,400 daily. (READ: Duterte: You'll see me more often in China)
"We were informed in China by the Philippine Embassy that applications for visa to the Philippines has really shot up from 400 a day now it's about 1,400 a day, meaning that Chinese tourists are going to be coming in groves starting with the warming of relations and at least throughout the Duterte administration and hopefully beyond," NEDA Director-General Ernesto Pernia said in a briefing.
Pernia attributed this to the improved diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China since Duterte's state visit to Beijing in October 2016, leading to the lifting of Chinese restrictions on travel to the Philippines.
Latest available data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) show China is the 3rd largest contributor of foreign visitors to the country, totalling 630,327 in November 2016, trailing behind Korea's 1,331,701 and the United States' 771,849. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Philippines-China relations)
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua had said in a statement that he expects one million tourists from China to visit the Philippines in 2017.
Philippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said Zhao's forecast is consistent with the DOT's goal to attract at least 7 million international visitors this year.
More infra partnerships
Aside from the rising number of Chinese tourists in the country, another effect of the improved ties between the Philippines and China is the increased loan assistance for several infrastructure projects. (READ: Ties with China to fill infra spending gap, pose risk to PPP)
A Philippine delegation led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has submitted a total of 40 "large and small" infrastructure projects to China for possible loan financing and assistance in conducting feasibility studies. Further talks on these proposals will take place in Manila in February.
Dominguez said the meeting of the high-level Philippine team with officials of China's Commerce Ministry was a "productive first step towards achieving the desire of (Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping) in further reinforcing ties between the two countries."
Of the 40 projects, 15 are being proposed for loan financing, while another 25 are for feasibility study support.