Despite the territorial dispute with Asia’s biggest economy, the Philippines believes China will play a key role in helping the country achieve its target of attracting 10 million tourists a year.
According to Tourism Undersecretary Daniel Corpuz, tourist arrivals from China has been growing over the past few years.
In a report submitted to the National Statistical Coordination Board, Corpuz said that the number of Chinese tourists has been increasing since 2010, and that the growth accelerated this year.
Chinese tourists numbered 246,967 in January to July, up year on year by nearly 49 percent.
This is much faster than the 20.9 percent growth in 2010, 29.7 percent in 2011, and 3.2 percent last year.
Growth picked up despite the territorial dispute over areas in the West Philippine Sea.
“Given that government resources are not infinite, it is important to be strategic and to examine data and determine where to focus our attention in attracting tourists to visit our country,” Corpuz said in the report posted on the NSCB’s website.
Based on 2012 figures from the tourism department, more than half, or 58.9 percent, of Chinese tourists who visited the Philippines cited “holiday” as the reason for their visit.
The rest came to the Philippines to visit friends and relatives, and for business, among others.
There were 250,883 Chinese tourists last year, accounting for nearly 6 percent of total tourists in the Philippines in 2012.
Each Chinese tourist was estimated to have spent $55.59 (about P2,300) a day during his or her stay in the Philippines.