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Increased Chinese arrivals may sustain Philippine travel sector

06-19-2011 10:58 BJT

The Philippine government is on track in its target of luring 3.74 million foreign tourists to the country in 2011 after arrivals in the first four months of this year rose 13 percent to 1.31 million.

South Korea, the U.S. and Japan accounted for almost half of all foreign visitor arrivals in the months of January to April.

Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said the government is optimistic that with the increase in foreign arrivals from January to April it can attain its year-round target of a 15 percent surge in the tourism sector.

But Lim cautioned the months of January to April was a peak season for foreign travelers. The Philippines will be entering the traditional "low season" in the middle of the year.

That said, the Tourism Chief is optimistic that the open skies policy and the rising Chinese economy will sustain support the country's travel sector for the rest of the year.

China is the fourth biggest travel market for the Philippines. Visitors from China rose 19 percent to 71,113 from January to April.

Lim is hoping that China could become a major source of foreign tourists in the coming years. He even led a tourism mission to China in April this year to attract more travelers from China.

He said that with rising incomes in China, the country's outbound travelers are expected to reach 100 million by 2020, making it the largest source of tourists in Asia and the world.

Indeed, a Boston-based consulting firm estimates that by 2020, a quarter of all international travelers arriving in Japan and South Korea will come from China, while arrivals from China in Europe would quadruple.

The firm says that in North America, Chinese travelers would rank third among international arrivals and on average there will be 25 million first-time Chinese travelers every year for the next 10 years.

In his meeting with the head of China National Tourism Administration Shao Qiwei in Beijing, Lim said that China is a " very important market for Philippine tourism."

He said the Philippine government "is working hard to improve infrastructure, facilities, and services in preparation for the arrival of more Chinese tourists."

Lim also briefed Shao on the open-skies policy, more relaxed visa policies and measures to assure and enhance the safety of tourists in the country.

Observers said that tourism flow among the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members should surge this year after passenger air services were liberalized within the 10-nation economic bloc in November last year.

Editor:Sun Luying |Source: Xinhua

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