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Philippines needs 45 flights/day to hit 1M Chinese tourists target

The Philippines needs 45 flights a day from China to hit its target of one million Chinese tourists next year, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT) Route Development Team. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines needs 45 flights a day from China to hit its target of one million Chinese tourists next year, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT) Route Development Team.

DOT Route Development head Erwin Balane, however, clarified the 45 flights needed was on the assumption that the minimum aircraft that would be used is an Airbus 320, all seats should be taken, and all passengers are Chinese.

“The 45 flights a day from China is on the assumption that all of the passengers are Chinese,” Balane said.

Citing statistics, Balane said only one-third of the 19 million international air passengers in the Philippines each year could be considered tourists.

“In the Philippines, we have about 19 million international passengers. And yet we’re only hitting close to six million tourists, meaning 30 percent of total passengers are tourists, and the rest are returning residents,” he said.

“Now, if there are some returning residents, and based on the statistics that only one-third are tourists, you have to multiply 45 by three, so that’s about 135 flights per day from China,” he added.

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Currently, Balane said there are 30 flights a day – both local and international carriers – to the Philippines from China and vice versa.

Of the 15 commercial Chinese airlines, only four, namely Air China, China Eastern Airline, China Southern Airline and Xiamen Air, are operating in the Philippines.

“This is why it’s important that we negotiate Kalibo, Cebu and (other gateways) because Manila alone cannot handle (the volume and frequency),” Tourism assistant secretary Frederick Alegre said.

According to Alegre, the target to reach one million tourists in 2017 came as a marching order from Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo after her business mission in China.

But Balane and Alegre said the Philippines would first need to address entry barriers, particularly visa restrictions to meet this goal.

“If the entry of Chinese to the Philippines is visa free, we would be very capable of reaching one million (Chinese tourists). Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and even Myanmar give visa-free entry to Chinese tourists, we are the only one who does not,” Balane said.

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