China to boost PHL tourism growth in next 5 years–Leechiu
By Roderick Abad |APRIL 19, 2017
CHINA could make a dramatic change to the Philippine tourism practically overnight, according to Leechiu Property Consultants CEO David Leechiu.
“[This is] because we are now ‘BFFs’ [coined term for best friends forever] with China,” he said during the company’s media briefing in Makati City on Tuesday.
The top executive was referring to the improved relationship between the two nations, which, over the past decades, has been marred by the sovereign issue over the disputed South China Sea, following the state visit of President Duterte to Beijing in October last year.
The Chinese people have been consistently among the top 3 foreign tourists in the country in the last six years, together with the South Koreans and the Americans.
Based on data from the Department of Tourism (DOT), about 243,000 travelers from China visited the Philippines in 2011, 251,000 in 2012 and 426,000 in 2013. The arrivals decreased to 395,000 in 2014, yet improved again in the next couple of years from 491,000 to 676,000.
“Before, they [Chinese authorities] were preventing people from going to the Philippines [because of] geopolitical issues. [But now], they’re back. That’s why there’s a big jump from 2015 to 2016,” he told the BusinessMirror in a sideline interview.
While the Philippines is gaining more and more of the Chinese outbound tourists, he emphasized though that this is just a fraction compared to other nations.
“[The arrival volume of] 676,000 is actually just 1.7 percent of all the Chinese that traveled last year,” Leechiu said. “We can grow this number 10 times, yet, it still won’t mean anything for the Chinese. That’s how big China is as a tourism market.”
He lauded the Duterte administration’s initiative to strengthen the country’s alliance with the world’s most populous nation which, in turn, could result to continuous influx of visitors from China.
Leechiu likewise commended the government’s action to maximize the Philippines’s share of the international tourism growth.
“We’re going from a global boom to local zoom,” he said, while citing the robust tourism investments of the administration.
As per the National Tourism Development Plan 2017-2022, the indicative budget for tourism is P2.9 trillion, of which P2.3 trillion will be state-funded and P677 billion by the private sector.
With such financial supports in place, the DOT targets the 2016 revenues of P2.16 trillion to increase by 86 percent to P3.9 trillion by the end of Duterte’s term. Last year’s per capita receipts of P28,500 is likewise expected to rise by 53 percent to P43,700 by 2022.
“We have predominantly domestic tourism today. But hopefully by 2022 we will have a bigger portion of that coming from the foreign market,” Leechiu said.
Bullish on future prospects, he said there’s also a possibility that the Chinese travelers could outnumber the Koreans as being the No. 1 tourists in the country today.
“It’s hard to say, but it could easily happen,” he said when pressed on the timeline for his projection. “It’s possible to make it happen this year. It’s possible to have it next year.”
Being the largest tourism market in the world, Leechiu is optimistic that the Chinese could easily be just as big as the Koreans in terms of arrivals in the Philippines.
“Consider also that the population of Korea is so small compared to China,” he added. “China consistently could be the single biggest driver of this market.”