Congressman says Chinese visitors to help boost tourism

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THE PHILIPPINES needs to bring in 1.7 million Chinese tourists each year to help its tourism industry recover from the pandemic, a congressman said on Thursday. 

“We need Chinese visitors to help our tourism enterprises recover so that they can gainfully reemploy tens of thousands of Filipinos who were laid off at the height of the pandemic,” Quezon City Rep. Marvin C. Rillo said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri told a Senate hearing China had blacklisted the Philippines as a tourist destination because of the continued operations of offshore gaming companies. 

The Chinese Embassy in Manila has denied this. 

“We welcome the Chinese embassy’s clarification that the Philippines has not been blacklisted, because we are counting on Chinese visitors to help our battered tourism establishments recover in the months ahead,” Mr. Rillo, a vice-chairman of the House of Representatives tourism committee, said. 

The Chinese were among the top foreign visitors in 2019 at 1.74 million, contributing 0.7% to Philippine economic output, according to data from the Tourism department. There have been 22,236 Chinese arrivals this year. 

Mr. Rillo said the Philippines in 2019 generated $2 billion in tourism receipts from Chinese visitors. “Assuming the COVID-19 pandemic is declared over later this year or in early 2023, we have to draw in on an annual basis at least the same volume of Chinese tourists that we received in 2019,” he added.

The Philippines has revoked the visas of more than 1,400 Chinese nationals working in offshore gaming companies whose licenses had been canceled, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said on Wednesday.

They have 60 days to leave the country, DoJ spokesman Jose Dominic F. Clavano IV told a televised news briefing, adding that this is more “cost-efficient and humanitarian” than deportation.

The government started cracking down on mostly Chinese gambling companies that offer online gambling services to markets outside the Philippines after a spate of kidnappings mainly victimizing Chinese nationals. — Matthew Carl L. Montecillo