MANILA -- China may soon be replacing South Korea as the Philippines' top foreign visitor market, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.
DOT made this statement following the decision of the Bureau of Immigration to issue visa upon arrival (VUA) to qualified Chinese nationals.
The BI made this decision to comply with a Department of Justice (DOJ) circular ordering the grant of VUAs to Chinese nationals.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, who earlier pressed the DOJ for the implementation of the VUA, thanked the agency for accepting the DOT proposal.
The DOT expresses its appreciation for the favorable action of the Department of Justice to DOT's long-standing proposal to ease the visa rules and procedures, specifically to implement the VUA policy for Chinese visitors, Teo said in a statement.
In welcoming our Chinese visitors with open arms, we also share the enthusiasm of DOJ, through the Bureau of Immigration, to foster improved bilateral relations with Beijing, she added.
Teo also expressed confidence that the VUA would serve as an incentive to Chinese nationals who may be prospective investors.
She further said that this would convince Chinese nationals to see the Philippines as not only safe haven for tourists but also a lucrative business location.
Following President Duterte's state visit to China in mid-October 2016 and the lifting of Beijing's travel restriction against the Philippines, Chinese arrivals jumped by 37.65 percent from 490,841 in 2015 to 675,663 end of 2016.
The increase in Chinese arrivals continued into the first half of 2017 as it went up by 33.44 percent from 340,958 visitors to 454,962 visitors in the same period last year.
Teo said that accommodating visiting Chinese nationals with a visa grant upon arrival will help keep the momentum of a massive influx of Chinese tourists into the country.
China is currently the Philippines third top foreign visitor market, behind the US (second) and South Korea (first).
Source: Philippine News Agency