The Tourism Department said Friday the implementation of the Visa Upon Arrival program is expected to make China as the top source of foreign visitors in the Philippines.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said the favorable action by the Justice Department to a long-standing proposal to ease visa rules and procedures, particularly the VUA policy for Chinese visitors, would increase international visitor arrivals in the country.
Teo pushed for the Justice Department’s approval and implementation of VUA, which she said could be a tool for the country to become a strong competitor in the global tourism industry.
“We also believe this will serve as an incentive to Chinese guests who may be prospective investors wanting to prove that the country is not only a safe haven for tourists but also a lucrative business location, as well,” Teo said.
Data showed that following President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to China in mid-October 2016 and the lifting of Beijing’s travel restriction against the Philippines, Chinese arrivals surged more than 37 percent to 675,663 in 2016 from 490,841 in 2015.
The phenomenal increase in Chinese arrivals continued into the first half of 2017, with a growth of 33.4 percent to 454,962 from 340,958 a year ago.
“Accommodating our visiting Chinese friends with a visa grant upon arrival will only help keep the momentum of massive influx of Chinese tourists into the country since the inception of the Duterte administration in July of 2016,” said Teo.
Teo said the VUA policy was an invitation to Chinese tourists to frequent their visits and experience the Philippines.
“In welcoming our Chinese visitors with open arms, we also share the enthusiasm of DOJ, through the Bureau of Immigration, to foster improved bilateral relations with Beijing,” Teo said.