More flights needed between Phl, China to lure more Chinese tourists


By Catherine Talavera | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — More flights between the Philippines and China are needed to further grow the number of Chinese arrivals, a tourism official said.

“For me, connectivity is key,” Raymund Glen Agustin, Department of Tourism (DOT) chief tourism operations officer of the market development group, told reporters on the sidelines of the Xi’an Tourism Administration promotions event.

Agustin said with the Visa Upon Arrival (VUA) option for Chinese nationals visiting the Philippines now available, the next step is to improve accessibility between the two countries.

Connectivity should not only be offered from the main gateways of China, but also from tier 2 cities, he said.

“That would also give a big boost to the arrivals so that connectivity is not only in Metro Manila, but also in our other destinations like Cebu, Davao even Kalibo, Caticlan, Bohol as well,” Agustin said.

Last week, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo said the Philippines has been receiving a lot of interest for chartered flights from Chinese groups. She disclosed she had a meeting with a Chinese group planning to operate chartered flights from Nanning City in China to the Philippines.

Teo said most of the operators are always asking for chartered flights to Manila, but she urged them to consider other airports in the country such as Clark, Davao, Palawan and Cebu.

“I told them to do their chartered flights (in these areas) so that it is spread out (to the entire country),” Teo said.

Last September, the DOT inked an agreement with Chengdu-based charter operator Hanglv International Travel Group to further boost the thriving route between mainland China and Manila.

The Philippines has seen an influx of Chinese tourists this year, mainly driven by the improved diplomatic relations between the two countries as well as the VUA option for Chinese nationals.

For this year, the DOT expects Chinese arrivals to hit the one million mark.

From January to October, Chinese arrivals have reached 810,807, accounting for 14.81 percent of the total arrivals.

China is currently the Philippines’ second top source market, following South Korea.

Apart from its impact on the arrivals numbers, the Chinese market also pushed visitor receipts up.

Based on latest available figures from the DOT, visitor receipts surged 36.28 percent in the nine months to September to P243.23 million.

China was the top spending market for September with estimated receipts of P10.6 billion.