Even friendship can’t make Phl. land in Chinese tourists top 10 destinations

Even friendship can’t make Phl. land in Chinese tourists top 10 destinations

Jan 25, 2023, 6:56 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz


As China fully reopens its doors, its nationals have selected as their top 10 destinations as Hongkong, Japan, Thailand, Macau and South Korea. The Philippines sadly is not in their list.

No matter how the previous (Duterte) administration snuggled closely to China for friendship, and the ambivalent relationship of the current president with China because of the West Philippine Sea issue, the Philippines has not made it to the top 10 destination wish-list of Chinese tourists, who are now free to leave for other countries with the opening of its borders.

According to the Chinese Traveler Sentiment Report by Dragon Trail Research in December 2022, more than half of respondents (52 percent of those surveyed) “would travel outside China within one year of reopening, and 84 percent would plan a trip within two years of reopening. However, 16 percent of respondents state that they would not travel outside mainland China,” The Manila Standard reported.

The survey also noted women were more likely to make travel plans compared to men as soon as restrictions are relaxed. “Pent-up demand is real, and growing, and the travel industry should get ready,” the report added.

While Asian destinations will certainly be the first to benefit from the recovery of the Chinese outbound travel market, the Philippines failed to make the top 10 list. “Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Thailand, and South Korea are at the top of Chinese travelers’ wish-lists and should expect to welcome the first wave of Chinese visitors when borders reopen for leisure travel. At the same time, beach and sea destinations are preferred by 51.8 percent of survey respondents, creating more opportunities for Southeast Asian destinations,” said the report.

The rest of the destinations Chinese travelers prefer are France, Taiwan, the Maldives, Singapore, and Australia.

The Philippines hopes to attract more Chinese tourists as it considers issuing easier visa rules. In 2019, there were 1.74 million Chinese tourists in the Philippines, accounting for 21 percent of the total 8.26-million international travelers. In 2022, there were 39,627 tourists from China, of the total 2.65-million arrivals.

Before the pandemic, China and South Koreans were the top visitors in the country.

Travel info from socmed

Majority of Chinese tourist source information on travel destinations from Chinese social media (69 percent), followed by travel web sites and online travel agencies (49 percent), and key opinion leaders and travel blogs (45 percent). As such, “Digital channels, media buy, and influencers will all be key to marketing in the recovery period,” the report recommended.

The survey also indicated the top factors how Chinese travelers decide on tourist products and destinations such as pricing (64 percent), health and safety (63 percent), and convenience (60 percent), showing no change since Dragon Trail’s March 2022 survey.

Mainland Chinese travelers cite local food (60.8 percent) and the local life (56.7 percent) as reasons for traveling abroad, while visiting landmarks such as museums and iconic architecture still ranks high. “Bringing these experiences to Chinese travelers should be part of marketing and product development work.”

The survey was conducted between November 7 and 20, 2022 of 1,003 mainland Chinese travelers, from Millennials to senior citizens, 49 percent of whom are married with children, while 28 percent are single. The report offers tourism stakeholders insights to be able to adapt their marketing strategies to satisfy the former’s needs.

The report also recommended the adoption of sustainable practices to attract more Chinese tourists. “More than 88 percent of Chinese travelers consider their impact on local environments and communities when traveling. Their intentions for taking more sustainable trips offer insights into what initiatives will get the best response. Hotels need to go greener. Attractions should stress being animal- friendly. Tour operators should find ways to help visitors give back.”

Chinese travelers are also anxious about their safety in several destinations. “When assessing 15 outbound destinations around the world, we can see that Chinese travelers are now less likely to categorize these destinations as ‘unsafe.’”

US, UK unsafe for Chinese tourists

The United States tops the list of destinations Chinese travelers consider unsafe, at 67 percent; followed by the United Kingdom (36 percent); Israel (35 percent); Canada and Japan (34 percent); and France (30 percent), among others. On the other hand, Hong Kong (47 percent) and Singapore (38 percent) are deemed the safest destinations.

Since the Covid pandemic, several incidents of assault against Asians have been recorded in the US, with perpetrators blaming mainly the Chinese for the spread of the virus.

Beijing has opened the doors to international travel, after it suddenly quit its stringent Covid lockdown measures in December.

The World Travel & Tourism Council meantime welcomed the reopening of mainland China to international travel citing the $253 billion contribution to the global economy in 2019 that created jobs and boosted regional economies.

Julia Simpson, president/CEO of WTTC also criticized the introduction of “knee-jerk travel restrictions” by some governments on Chinese tourists, saying they have not learned a bit about the behavior of the virus and continue to ignore the advice against border restrictions by the World Health Organization.

“The reintroduction of ineffective Covid testing to Chinese travelers is a step backwards for the global travel and tourism sector,” she said.

Among the governments that imposed additional testing rules on arriving Chinese travelers are those of the United States, Japan, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Morocco, Qatar, Australia, India, Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan. Philippine lawmakers and tourism stakeholders earlier called for stepped-up testing protocols for Chinese tourists, but Manila has said enough rules are already in place to ferret out the Covid-positive among international travelers, no matter the nationality.

The Philippines requires unvaccinated travelers, regardless of nationality, to only submit a negative result from an antigen test taken 24 hours prior to departure. The vaccinated merely must present their vaccination certification certificates or an international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis (yellow card). In contrast, Filipinos and other nationalities traveling to mainland China, vaccinated or otherwise, must submit a negative result from an RT-PCR test taken 48 hours prior to departure.

As this developed, the Department of Tourism (DOT) celebrates the arrival today of Xiamen Airlines flight MF819 from Xiamen, bringing an estimated 190 Chinese tourists. China’s Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian is expected to join Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco and Manila International Airport Authority Cesar Chiong in welcoming the Chinese tourists.

Xiamen Air closed its office in Manila during the pandemic, but the carrier restarted its flights to the capital in October, with two flights a week. It began its daily service on January 17, using a Boeing 738. Pioneering flag carrier Philippine Airlines has also started operating its own once-a-week flights between Manila and Xiamen on January 13 but will code-share with Xiamen Air for the summer season, from April and October.

Tags: #China, #tourists, #wishlistdestinations

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