MANILA, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines hopes to attract 4 million Chinese tourists per year by the end of 2022, a Philippine tourism official said Friday, stressing the government is stepping up efforts to lure more Chinese nationals to visit the Southeast Asian country.
Raymund Glen Agustin, the Chief Tourism Operations Officer of the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT), told Xinhua in an interview that the government is taking measures to smoothen the entry of Chinese tourists.
"First, we have to remove the barriers to ease the entry of Chinese tourists into the country," Agustin said.
The DOT is working closely with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the country's Bureau of Immigration to simplify the visas of Chinese nationals, he said.
"The other one is flights, we need to find more routes, from China directly to the destinations in the Philippines. We would like most of our international gateways to have direct flights from China," he said.
"China now is the Philippines' fastest growth foreign market and second-largest source of foreign tourists," he added.
In the first 10 months of 2019, a total of 1,499,524 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines, representing a 41.13 percent increase from the same period in 2018, according to DOT.
"With this growth of arrival, also comes a record growth in tourism receipts and job opportunities for the Philippines. By the end of the year 2022, DOT expects the target arrivals of the Chinese tourists is almost 4 million each year, which means we need an average of 30 percent growth in the next 3 years," Agustin said.
The DOT said a total of 1,255,258 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines in 2018 and more than 300 flights are shuttling between different cities of China and the Philippines every week.
Both countries are expecting more than 1.5 million Chinese tourists to the Philippines this year, which will generate more than 32 billion pesos (roughly 630 million U.S. dollars) of revenue for the Philippine economy.
The Philippines is hoping to reach its target of 8.2 million total foreign tourist arrivals in 2019, 1 million higher than in 2018.
Tourism industries contributed 12.7 percent to the Philippine economy in 2018, the Philippines Statistics Authority said.