China 'committed' to ease tourist visas for Filipinos

BEIJING, China – Amid the warming of ties between Manila and Beijing, China said it is "committed" to ease visa requirements for Filipino tourists.

Yan Xu, chief for International Relations Division of the China National Tourism Administration, said China is considering such move to increase two-way tourism in both countries.

At present, Filipinos need a tourist visa to enter China. The same thing goes for Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines.

Asked for details, Yan said it would take time on China's part, as the streamlining of processes need the input of several agencies, primarily the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“From the Chinese point of view, we are committed to further streamlining the visas of Filipinos. But it takes time as this streamlining initiative requires consultations with a number of relevant department on Chinese sector,” Yan told Filipino reporters on Thursday, July 13.

“It’s the responsibility of the foreign affairs of both sides. From a tourism authority’s point of view, we’ll push for it. We look forward to see a positive result,” Yan said.

Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago "Chito" Santa Romana earlier told the Commission on Appointments in Manila that China is considering visa-free entry for Filipinos.

He said it was among the numerous deals forged by President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping when the former made a state visit to China in October 2016.

Increase in tourism

China is the Philippines’ 3rd source of tourists, trailing South Korea and the United States.

On the other hand, the Philippines is the 10th source of tourists for China.

Since Duterte took office in June 2016, Yan said Chinese tourists to the Philippines increased by 36.3%, citing the latter’s statistics.

Meanwhile, Chinese tourists to the Southeast Asian country totaled 1.14 million in 2016, up by 13%.

Yan expects more Chinese tourists to visit the Philippines if the improved relations are sustained.

He pointed out that Hainan airlines would soon fly straight from Hainan province to Manila within the year – a move seen to increase Chinese arrivals in the country.

Bilateral ties between the 2 nations improved under Duterte, who downplays the country’s landmark victory over the South China Sea, in exchange for Chinese deals.

“I believe that if the bilateral relationship between the 2 countries keeps enjoying this steady and healthy development and with the joint efforts of the tourism authorities of both sides, this goal will be met in the foreseeable future,” Yan said. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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