By Zaldy De Layola

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 arrival area (File photo)

MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) must lure more tourists from China after a “very encouraging” surge of Chinese tourists in the Philippines, Quezon City 4th District Rep. Marvin Rillo urged.

Rillo said he is counting on the tourism industry to drive the creation of new jobs in services such as accommodation, transport, food and beverage, and entertainment, and in other activities in the value chain.

“We hope that the uptrend will keep going in the months ahead,” Rillo said in a news release on Sunday.

“We need the number of Chinese travelers to return to their pre-pandemic levels to sustain the full recovery of our highly labor-intensive tourism enterprise,” he added.

China is the third biggest supplier of foreign visitors to the Philippines in the first two months of 2024, after South Korea and the United States, based on DOT data.

China leapfrogged over five countries – Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom – which all had more visitors in the first two months of 2023.

DOT report indicated that the number of Chinese tourists in the Philippines surged by 235 percent to 82,314 in the first two months of 2024, from 24,552 in the January-February 2023 period.

“In order to showcase our tourist attractions and lure more Chinese travelers, we would urge the DOT to send delegations of Philippine travel, tour, hotel, and resort operators to China,” Rillo said.

He said Manila’s lingering maritime dispute with Beijing “should not inhibit or discourage the DOT from seeking new opportunities to capture a larger number of Chinese tourists.”

A total of 1,093,283 foreign tourists arrived in the Philippines in the first two months of 2024, up 27.6 percent from 856,883 during the same period in 2023.

South Korea and the United States supplied 329,651 and 185,387 visitors, respectively, in the first two months of 2024.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, China was the second biggest supplier of foreign visitors to the Philippines with 1,743,309 Chinese tourists in 2019. (PNA)