THE Philippines should have benefited a lot from China’s growing outbound tourists if there was no travel warning on the country, a Chinese diplomat said.
China issued a travel warning against the Philippines in September 2014 over security concerns after a foiled bombing attempt at the Chinese Embassy in Makati City.
The plot was said to be linked to the dispute over competing territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said there were about 120 million outbound Chinese tourists in 2015.
The Philippines’ share only reached 500,000, far below the share of other neighbors in Southeast Asia.
“According to our statistics, each Chinese tourist traveling to Southeast Asian countries spends at least $1,000. So just imagine if you have one million or two million Chinese coming over here,” Zhao said.
“That is going to be a great boost to economic development, particularly to the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises,” he added.
Notwithstanding the sea row, Zhao said the Philippines is becoming increasingly attractive to Chinese tourists because of the country’s “beautiful scenery and very warm people.”
“And you also have great sea foods,” the envoy added, laughing.
According to a report of the Department of Tourism in February, China showed the biggest growth of 96.61 percent from its arrival of 41,812 in 2015 to 82,208 this year.
Chinese tourists’ expenditure in the Philippine market amounted to P1.71 billion, making them the third top spending tourists in the country, behind Koreans and Americans.
Zhao expressed willingness to personally talk to the next Philippine President to boost the countries’ relationship in a bid to further promote tourism, among other areas of common interests.
The ambassador said he has been following the statements of all the five presidential candidates and “almost all of them emphasized their willingness to develop economic and trade relations with China.”
“We hope that we can continue to be a good neighbor, good partner. We hope that we can further enhance our bilateral relationship,” he said.