MANILA, Philippines - Despite ongoing tensions between the Philippines and China over a group of islets in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the number of Chinese visitors to the Philippines jumped a staggering 59.07 percent in the first five months of 2012.
Data from the Department of Tourism showed Chinese tourist arrivals increased to 138,466 from January to May 2012, making them the fourth largest tourism market for the Philippines. That growth also exceeded the 21.5-percent increase recorded in January-May 2011, indicating continued strong interest by mainland Chinese in the Philippines.
DOT officials hope the current “ban” by tour operators in China to the Philippines would be lifted soon. The unofficial ban was put in place by the tour operators last May 10, as tensions escalated between the two countries over the disputed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).
A number of hotels and resorts in Clark, Pampanga; Boracay Island, Aklan; and Cebu City recorded booking cancellations, with fears that the ban would extend until January 2013. (See “China tourist booking cancellations extend until Jan. 2013,” InterAksyon.com, May 16, 2012.)
Chinese tourists accounted for a 7.61-percent market share of the 1.82-million total tourist arrivals in the five-month period. The number of total visitors rose 13.05 percent from the same period last year. Of the total arrivals, 93,814 were visiting overseas Filipino workers, the same DOT data showed. (The rest at InterAksyon.com, July 15, 2012.)