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Philippines pushes harder for Chinese visitors
Never mind that it missed the one million mark for Chinese tourist arrivals in 2017, the Philppines’ Department of Tourism (DOT) is raising the bar this year with a target of 1.5 million arrivals, according to tourism secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo.
Last year, a total of 968,447 Chinese visited the country, overtaking the Americans to become the second top source market, up 43.3 per from 675,663 the previous year, DOT said in a statement.
DOT sees direct flights as key to lifting Chinese arrival numbers
Teo said warming relations between the Duterte administration and the Chinese government, despite the Scarborough territorial dispute, bodes well for tourism numbers, as well as investments from mainland China.
For the first month of 2018, Chinese arrivals registered 111,344, representing a 29.6 per cent increase from the same period last year.
DOT-Shanghai tourism attaché Ireneo Reyes shared that accessibility will be priority in the destination’s drive for more Chinese visitors. Starting this year, a total of 5,180 seats per month will be added, and new direct flights to Cebu (adding 1,800 seats), Kalibo (3,183 seats) and Puerto Princesa (197 seats) are expected to bring more Chinese tourists to the country.
For the Chinese New Year period, a total of 2,937 seats were opened for the month of February from different Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Xiamen, Ningbo, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi and Tianjin.
“These direct and charter flights provide convenience that greatly affects tourist experience and influences potential tourist’s decision in choosing a destination. At the moment there are 11 airlines servicing direct, regular and charter, routes for 17 Chinese cities,” DOT-Beijing tourism attaché Tomasito Umali commented.
Aside from better air connectivity, DOT is also focusing on cruise tourism, as more Chinese cruise companies and charterers are including Philippine ports in their itineraries.
Cruise ships SuperStar Virgo and World Dream paved the way last year, and Costa Cruise Atlantis will this month begin a year-round deployment. Royal Caribbean Voyager and Ovation, each with capacity for 3,500 passengers, will call at the Philippines in June and July.
Local Chinese cruise lines including Diamond Exquisites and Taishan Cruise also are expected to visit the country this year.
“We are also preparing more choices for the Chinese market. We are now pushing Puerto Princesa, Davao and other destinations,” Teo said. Boracay, Cebu and Bohol were the favorite destinations of the Chinese travellers last year, according to the DOT Annual Visitor Sample Survey 2017.
DOT offices in Beijing and Shanghai also have plans to to go digital and work with key opinion leaders and OTAs, as well as advertise on popular social media platforms, WeChat, Weibo and Dian Pin.
The DOT is also encouraging more niche products such as English-as-Second-Language, MICE and dive segments.
Meanwhile, the visa-on-arrival policy for Chinese tour groups and the visa-free policy for Chinese nationals who hold valid visas to the US, Japan, Australia, Canada and Schengen States will continue to be in place.
  Source: TTG Asia

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