The Philippines’ Department of Tourism has launched the “Bisita Be My Guest” (BBMG) here to encourage Filipinos to invite more Chinese tourists to visit the country.
Erwin Batane, the country’s tourism attaché in Beijing, said the target is to lure at least 33 percent of the 1.75 million Chinese tourists who visited the Philippines in 2019.
He said Chinese tourists are among the big contributors to the Philippines’ eco-tourism sector, spending over USD2.33 billion while vacationing in the country before borders have been closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
“This is the reason why we want to encourage our Filipinos here to participate in the BBMG campaign of the government and invite or bring home a Chinese to travel to the Philippines again and win prizes for themselves and their guests,” Batane said during the BBMG launch at Hilton Hotel here.
He said when the country opened its borders to foreigners in 2022, more Chinese tourists started to visit again the Philippines but still way below the pre-pandemic number.
“We still have a long way to go and more effort is needed to reach the pre-pandemic record to encourage Chinese tourists to come to the Philippines,” Batane said.
Batane said he expects group travels and flights from China to boost the tourism industry since the Chinese government has identified the Philippines as among the 20 pilot countries wherein its residents can visit as tourists.
The Philippine government officially launched the BBMG program in December last year, incentivizing Filipinos who invite foreign tourists with travel discounts and a chance to win a condominium and free vacation trips.
“As Filipinos, we can help in our little ways by promoting the Philippines and the beauty of the country, the smiles of the people, and our culture of hospitality while the country has yet to have the funds to boost tourism promotion. Having been abroad, they have developed acquaintances with other people whom they can invite to visit the country,” Batane said.
“Imagine 10 percent of our population are working abroad, so if you are looking at 110 million Filipinos, there are about 11 million who are abroad and if they bring at least one visitor, that is 11 million visitors,” Batane added.
During his state visit to China last January, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. directed the concerned government agencies to help facilitate the processing of e-visa and other travel documents to encourage more Chinese tourists to travel in the Philippines.
“The concept of government is that if we can extend the hospitality by giving the e-visa while continuing to consider various factors but I am sure it is upcoming,” he said.
He said Chinese tourists remain attracted to the beautiful beaches in the Philippines.
“China is a very big country with 1.4 billion people but its only beaches in the eastern part cannot be accessed at least nine months a year due to the cold weather, that is why if you show the white beaches and crystal blue waters to the Chinese, they will be encouraged to travel to our country,” he added.
In an earlier interview, Philippine Ambassador to the Republic of China Jaime FlorCruz said the Philippine embassy in Beijing and the consular offices in different parts of China have released at least 1,000 visas per day.
He said the number would increase once group travels resume and more travel agencies start to operate. (PNA)