THE number of Chinese tourists visiting Central Visayas has nearly doubled.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 showed guests from China penciled in 244,925 arrivals in 2016 compared to the 128,358 arrivals logged in 2015, or a growth of 90.81 percent.
China ranks third among the region’s top sources of foreign tourists after Korea, which ranked first, and Japan, which landed in the second spot.
Key to the increase in Chinese traffic, according to the DOT, was Beijing’s lifting of a travel advisory for the Philippines in October of last year.
The renewed economic relationship between the Philippines and China also resulted in the increased number of direct routes between Cebu and China.
GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. expects 10 Cebu-China routes before the end of this year, from four at present.
A DOT statement said that tour operator Sun Fair International, which has offices in Xiamen and Hong Kong, had already committed an additional 10,000 Chinese tourists coming from the cities of Shanghai, Xiamen, Chongqing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, and Beijing, starting May. The additional Chinese tourists will make up a diverse group, ranging from leisure travelers, divers and adventure seekers, to rollers, businessmen, culinary travelers, shoppers, and even employees on company-paid tours, Sun Fair said in a statement.
The proposed local destinations include Manila, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, Davao, Surigao, Subic and Negros Occidental.
Total tourist arrivals (both foreign and local) to Central Visayas in 2016 rose 29.17 percent to 5,959,603 from 4.6 million in 2015.
Cebu accounted for the bulk of the arrivals at 4,172,138, followed by Bohol with one million, Negros Oriental, 696,403, and Siquijor, 85,876 arrivals.
The region logged 3.6 million in local tourists, up 36.16 percent from 2.6 million in 2015. Foreign guests grew 20 percent to 2.3 million from 1.9 million in 2015.
The number of balikbayans who came home, though, declined by 24.07 percent last year.
Of the region’s top 10 tourist source markets, only Canada yielded fewer arrivals. Its arrivals dropped by 0.06 percent.
Korea remains the region’s biggest visitor-generating market, growing 14.47 percent to 842,985 arrivals last year.
Japan came second with arrivals of 369,860, up 17.38 percent. The USA ranked fourth in tourist arrivals to the region, which grew 22.28 percent to 201,222 tourists, followed by Australia, whose arrivals grew 9.18 percent to 63,627 arrivals. Rounding out the top 10 are Germany (sixth) with 46,418 arrivals, up 7.67 percent; United Kingdom with 43,243 arrivals, up by 9.45 percent; France with 42,961 arrivals, up by 28.07 percent; Taiwan with 42,261 arrivals, up by 64.11 percent; and Canada.