The country should relax the visa requirements for visiting Chinese and Indian nationals to boost tourism in the country, Manila Representative Amado Bagatsing said.
Bagatsing said requiring Chinese and Indian tourists to apply for visas to visit the country was a major roadblock in the Aquino administration’s goal of generating six million tourist arrivals by 2016.
Imposing visa requirements on Chinese and Indians “due to misplaced security concerns” have kept at a negligible number visitors from these two populous countries, continued Bagatsing.
“If we start issuing them visas upon arrival and develop Chinese and Indian-centric tourism offerings and developments, we might just get at least one percent of their population to visit our country—that’s 13 million arrivals coming from China and four million coming from the 400 million rich Indians,” he added, noting that other Asean countries have more lax visa policies for tourists.
The Philippines had 3.5 million arrivals last year versus Malaysia’s 24.5 million; Thailand’s 15.8 million; Singapore’s 11.6 million; Indonesia’s 7 million; and Vietnam’s 5 million.
The failure of the government to provide security from harassment and crime to tourists was another major turn-off for visitors, Bagatsing said.
“The government should take definite steps to protect foreign tourists from any kind of harassment or criminal activity once they arrive at the airport up to the time they leave. Authorities in areas frequented by tourists should closely monitor the situation as unpleasant encounters by foreign tourists with criminals and con men could translate into fewer tourists,” he said.
Bagatsing also noted the country’s poor airport facilities. “The Philippines is far behind Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur whose airports have become major tourist and local attractions in themselves.”
30 Nov 2011
Easing of visa rules on Indians, Chinese urged
Posted on December 1, 2011