BORACAY ISLAND — The Department of Tourism (DOT) expresses its optimism on the continual recovery of the country’s tourism industry, with the return of group travel and chartered flights from its top source markets including China.
Boracay Island on April 18 welcomed a total of 180 Chinese tourists aboard a chartered OK Airlines flight from Changsha, China to Kalibo, Aklan, the first chartered flight from China since the market reopened for international travel since January 8.
To give the visitors a preview of the warm Filipino hospitality, the DOT led a welcome reception for them upon their disembarkation at Kalibo.
“We are very happy to welcome the resumption of chartered flights from China into Kalibo. This only manifests the fact that Boracay remains a popular destination for Chinese tourists. Together with the local government and our very active private stakeholders, we shall aggressively pursue the promotion of sustainable and responsible tourism in Boracay so that more will come to enjoy its beauty in the long run,“ said Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco.
It may be recalled that Chinese tourists were the number one foreign visitor in Boracay numbering about 434,175 in 2019, and prior to the global tourism standstill brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Philippines also received a total of more than 1.7 million visitors from China by the end of 2019.
During the high-level convergence meeting between the DOT, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Immigration (BI) that transpired last March 24, Secretary Frasco underscored the importance of visa reforms that will ease entry for the country’s top source markets such as China.
As a result of the agencies’ convergence, all Philippine Foreign Service Posts (PFSPS) in the People’s Republic of China have resumed the processing and issuance of Philippine visas to Chinese tour groups since April 11.
“The DOT looks forward to equaling, if not surpassing, the number of Chinese visitors we received before the pandemic. We thank our partner agencies especially the Department of Foreign Affairs for heeding our appeal to resume the processing and issuance of Philippine visas to Chinese tour groups, shortly after we manifested the necessity of regaining China as our largest source of inbound travelers,” Secretary Frasco said.
”We look forward to other interventions such as the implementation of an electronic visa system to facilitate the ease of entry into the country of our tourists,” the DOT Chief added.
Secretary Frasco has earlier expressed the DOT’s intention to maintain strong ties with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MOCT) in China which, to recall, included the Philippines as among the 20 nations to be part of its pilot areas for outbound tourism group tours.
The Department currently has two satellite offices in mainland China, one in Beijing and another in Shanghai that facilitate the assistance in the promotion and marketing of Philippine tourism to the Chinese market.