January 26, 2024
MANILA – There is a sharp decline in Chinese tourists in the country compared to the period prior to the pandemic, according to Beijing’s envoy to Manila.
Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian made the observation during the inauguration of the Chinese Visa Application Service Center in Makati City on Thursday.
Huang said that almost 1.8 million Chinese tourists visited the country in 2019. However, he noted that in 2023, the tourist arrival from China only reached over two hundred thousand.
“We are pleased to see that people-to-people exchanges have rapidly recovered following the pandemic. But there is still room for improvement compared to pre-pandemic levels,” Huang said of Chinese tourist arrival in his opening speech.
On the other hand, Huang noted that there is a growing demand for Chinese visas, which prompted the embassy to create the visa application center.
“The enthusiasm of Filipinos to visit China and the demand for Chinese visa have been growing fast over the years,” he said.
Despite the shortage of personnel among “other bottlenecks,” Huang said the Chinese Embassy sought to improve visa processing, but he said it remains challenging to meet the increasing demand for visas fully.
Huang said the new visa center will handle visa applications by providing on-site reception, acceptance of application materials, visa issuance, and answering relevant inquiries, but the decision on visa approval remains with the Embassy.
“China and the Philippines are natural partners for geographical proximity and close kinship, and enjoy close people-to-people exchanges,” Huang said.
“We hope that our two countries will meet each other halfway to maintain the correct direction of bilateral relations…” he added.