The electronic visa system to be rolled out by the Philippines for Chinese nationals beginning August 24 is a shot in the arm for this erstwhile robust inbound market which remains frail so far, contrary to expectations.
Calling the e-visa “a welcome change”, Mary Ann Ong, general manager inbound, Bridges Travel, added that the winter season is approaching, which is when China’s outbound travellers tend to look for warmer climes. This puts Philippines in a good position to attract them.
Currently, holidaymakers from China are trickling into the Philippines, and instead, there are more business travellers, Ong said on the sidelines of the Philippine Tour Operators Association’s launch of the 34th Philippine Travel Mart (September 1-3, 2023).
Tourism secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said: “The e-visa will be a game changer for the Chinese outbound market, which currently prefers other South-east Asian destinations such as Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Cambodia which provide (them with) landing visas.”
As of July 26, Department of Tourism numbers show there were only 137,822 visitors from China, a far cry from 2019 when over 1.7 million Chinese visited, making them the country’s second and fastest-growing inbound market after South Korea.
An industry source requesting anonymity said China arrivals are still weak due to the stringent visa approvals that serve to prevent the onslaught of illegal Chinese workers of Philippine offshore gaming operators, a recent contentious issue between the two countries.
Once the e-visa system for Chinese nationals take off, Indian nationals will be the next in line to be able to apply for entry visas online.
Applicants have to register and create an account on the official website or the app, fill out the application form, upload the required documents, and make payment. The processing time for single entry visas is about three to eight days, whereupon the approved e-visa is emailed to the applicant.