Key Gambling Industry Figure Encourages Philippines’ New Government to Relax Visa Regulations for Chinese Nationals
- Posted by Christopher Ledsham
- On 21st June 2016
- casino, gambling, the Philippines, Visa Policy
Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp, the company responsible for the operation of the City of Dreams Manila casino complex in Manila, has called upon the Philippines’ new incoming government to ease visa requirements for Chinese nationals in order to boost the country’s tourism sector.
The City of Dreams Property President Geoff P. Andres cited regional tourism destinations such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, as well as global players Australia and the United States, as examples of governments that had streamlined visa policies for Chinese passport holders in order to attract more tourists.
Lamenting the “cumbersome” visa application process that was presenting a barrier to making a breakthrough in the Chinese outbound tourism market, Andres clarified that “You lose that spontaneous impulse by people just wanting to come and visit. If we can make it easier for people to visit... they [can] have an amazing time and they go back and tell great stories.” Nevertheless, he brought attention to the fact that the Philippines was starting to see a great deal of return visits, a factor that would support the assertion that there are a large number of potential Chinese tourists that could be enticed by a more simplified visa policy.
In light of the continued effects of the Beijing government’s anti-corruption crackdown on Macau’s gaming industry, the Philippines would be well-poised to attract large numbers of Chinese tourists to its casinos. Andres maintained that, in easing visa restrictions to attract this market, the financial benefits that would accompany increased arrival numbers would advantage not only the gambling sector, but also provide a lift to the tourism industry as a whole.
The Philippines saw 490,841 Chinese arrivals in 2015, a year-on-year growth rate of 24.3% when compared with 2014’s total of 394,973 arrivals. Accordingly, Chinese nationals represented 9.16% of total inbound arrivals to the Philippines, making China the fourth largest source of tourists to the Philippines.
As things currently stand, the Philippines permits visa-free entry for nationals of 156 countries, with China, the world’s largest source of outbound tourists, representing a prominent absence on this list. Nevertheless, Chinese nationals in possession of visas for Australia, Canada, Japan, the United States or a member state of the Schengen area are entitled to remain in the Philippines for up to seven days without a visa; this is, however, less than the customary 30 day period offered to the majority of nationalities.
On account of the introduction of multiple-entry visas for Chinese citizens by Australia and the US in recent years, the Philippines has the potential to target a number of high-end Chinese tourists under the current visa policy. Nevertheless, for the Chinese, being offered the same, or even better, visas as are available to citizens of other countries– as is the case in the US and Australia – is regarded as an affirmation of China’s rise to prominence in the international arena over recent decades and therefore is seen by ordinary travellers as an attractive “welcoming” gesture. Consequently, in line with incoming Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s reported ambition to improve political ties with China, a simplified visa policy for Chinese nationals could help both economic and diplomatic relations with Beijing.
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