Philippines rides on VUA to court religious Chinese travellers

A Chinese Mazu Cultural Center will soon rise in Manila Bay

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DoT) is hoping to leverage the country’s recent visa relaxation for Chinese travellers to position the destination as an attractive “festival hub” for the growing number of Mazu devotees from China.

According to tourism secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo, two months since the rollout of visa upon arrival (VUA) option to Chinese citizens, arrivals from China surged by 54.9 per cent from 61,766 arrivals August last year to 95,687 of same period this year.

A Chinese Mazu Cultural Center will soon rise in Manila Bay

Speaking at the Mazu cultural tour festival held at Tin Hau Temple at Coloane in Macau, she said: “If these figures are any indication, the Philippines can certainly piggyback on VUA to attract more Chinese travellers, considering that a huge number of this market are package tour buyers.

“I am confident this ease in visa requirement is an attractive proposition for the country to host big-ticket events such as the Mazu culture festival,” she added, pointing to the 300 million Mazuists worldwide.

She further shared that a Chinese Mazu Cultural Center will soon rise in Manila Bay under the auspices of Friends of the Philippines’ Foundation.

“This should become a centrepiece for economic and cultural exchanges between Chinese and the Philippines, promoting the Mazu culture as well as advancing Sino-Philippine friendship.”

The said hub will feature a six-metre-high Mazu statue at the bay, which also feature many tourism, business, leisure and cultural activities. Every March 23 on the lunar calendar marks the birthdate of Mazu, while followers also celebrate Mazu’s ascent on September 9.

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