Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp, operator of the City of Dreams Manila casino venue (pictured) in Entertainment City in the Philippines capital, has called on the country’s new government to ease visa requirements for Chinese tourists.
“We have a big opportunity to [tap] this mainland Chinese market and one of the things on my wish list is easing the visa requirements for Chinese tourists,” said the property’s president Geoffry Andres, as quoted by several Philippines media outlets.
He added that several countries – including the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand had eased visa rules for Chinese tourists in recent years.
The Philippines allows nationals from several countries and regions – including holders of passports issued respectively by Hong Kong and Macau, two special administrative regions of China – to enter the Philippines without a visa; for short-term, business- or tourism-related stays. People’s Republic of China passport holders are required to apply for a visa to enter the Philippines, although there are exemptions available for some travellers.
Mr Andres was speaking on the sidelines of Melco Crown Philippines’ annual stockholders’ meeting on Monday. The company is a unit of Asian casino investor Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, chaired by Lawrence Ho Yau Lung.
The Philippines’ new president, Rodrigo Duterte, is reported to want to improve diplomatic and political relations with China, following a number of territorial and other disputes during the administration of his predecessor Benigno Aquino. Mr Duterte will be sworn into office on June 30.
International media outlets have reported that an international tribunal in The Hague in the Netherlands is likely to rule soon on a case brought by the Philippines during Mr Aquino’s time in office, which questions some of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.
According to Philippines Department of Tourism data, China moved up into third place in the January to April period as a contributor of tourists to the Philippines: it swapped places with Japan compared to the prior-year period. South Korea was the biggest contributor of visitors during January to April, followed by the United States.
A number of investment analysts have suggested that Macau’s ban – announced on May 6 and effective from May 9 – on the use of telephones at its casinos’ VIP tables, might have driven some Macau gambling business from Chinese players offshore, to places including Manila. They point out that telephones at tableside can be used to facilitate so-called “proxy betting”, allowing people not physically present in the casino to make bets.
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”The lockdowns, movement restrictions and temporary closure of gaming operations have tremendously affected our revenues, but Pagcor and our licensed casinos will continue to support the government in helping Filipinos in need"
Chairman and chief executive of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp