The Philippines aims to draw 7.7 million foreign visitors next year after exceeding its arrival goals for 2023, said on Tuesday the country’s Department of Tourism.
That would be about 52 percent more than the just under 5.07 million international visitors coming to the country in the calendar year since January, as mentioned on Tuesday by Secretary of Tourism Christina Frasco (pictured) in comments in Makati City, Metro Manila.
Ms Frasco was quoted as saying via a ministry statement regarding the 2024 target: “I understand that this is not yet our pre-pandemic numbers of 2019 at over 8.2 million international arrivals but what I can assure you is that we will push as hard as we can and fully activate our convergences with other government agencies in order to reach this target.”
The Philippines is one of the few jurisdictions in Asia to have an extensive casino industry open to locals as well as foreigners. A number of commentators has mentioned that the Philippine casino sector had benefitted in 2023 not only from domestic demand, but a return of visitors from overseas.
Nonetheless, Maybank Investment Bank Bhd said in a Tuesday memo that a “lower-than-expected” volume of tourists from China has been a factor in Philippine tourism industry 2023 performance being “below expectations”.
Chinese have historically been an important target market for the country’s casinos, according to industry commentators.
So far in 2023, South Korea had been the Philippines’ top source market for tourists, with just over 1.34 million arrivals, followed by the United States with 836,694; Japan with 285,655; China with 252,171; and Australia with 238,487, according to the tourism department’s latest update.
In 2019, the Philippines had recorded 1.74 million arrivals from China, Maybank mentioned in its research note.
China has an ongoing law enforcement campaign against mainland residents engaging in “overseas gambling” in bricks and mortar casinos outside the country, and against its citizens taking part in online gambling.
China’s embassy in the Philippines said in a Thursday statement that the same day the two countries had “cooperated in the repatriation of 180 Chinese citizens engaged in offshore gambling in the Philippines”.
The embassy said it followed an October 27 “raid” by Philippine law-enforcement agencies on a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) in Pasay City, Manila.
“At the request of the Philippine side, the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines promptly assisted in verifying the identities of the Chinese citizens among them and assisted in the repatriation procedures,” said the statement from China’s diplomatic mission there.
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