The Cebu City Tourism Commission (CCTC) on Monday urged the Marcos administration to open more consular offices in China and other Asian countries to further boost the tourism arrivals in Cebu and other parts of the country.
Lawyer Jocelyn Pesquera, head of the CCTC, said a team from the Cebu City government, including her, recently joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nation – China Week in Fuzhou, Fujian Province on Aug. 5-11, and learned that many Chinese would want to visit the Philippines.
However, the eagerness of would-be tourists to come to the country is faced with the challenge of getting a visa since China has only a few Philippine consular offices to process their applications.
She said the consular office in Xiamen could only approve a very few visa applications a day due to manpower constraints.
According to the website embassies.net, the Philippines has seven consular stations in China.
The city government has noted that the Mactan-Cebu International Airport registered only 2.2 million tourist arrivals in 2022 compared to many international airports that recorded high tourist arrivals, like the Shanghai Airport which had 32 million arrivals in the same year.
In her report to the Cebu City Council, Pesquera said China, the most visited destination in Asia, has 58 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Philippines and Thailand has six each, while Singapore has one.
Many still choose Singapore and Thailand over the Philippines, she added.
Based on data on tourist arrivals in 2019 or before the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the Philippines recorded 8.2 million while Thailand posted 39.9 million and Singapore, 19.1 million.
China posted 162.5 million visitors in 2019.
She urged lawmakers to allocate more funds to establish more consular offices and reinvigorate the existing ones so that they can process more visa applications.
“Considering that tourism is one of the most potent economic drivers in the country, there is a need for the national government to address the concerns of the Department of Foreign Affairs and there is a need to ease the process in the issuance of Visa to our country and maybe allow nationals of selected countries to have Visa upon arrival,” Pesquera said. (PNA)