Local operators welcome closer Philippines-China ties

Philippines’ gaming operators stand to benefit from the Duterte administration’s closer ties with China, with more mainland Chinese tourists expected to travel to the Philippines to play, local media reports.

“We are optimistic that visa requirements would be relaxed for visiting Chinese tourists to the country,” said Willy Ocier, vice chairman and executive director of Belle Corp.

According to a report from Philstar, COL Financial said the growing number of tourists from China should boost revenues of gaming firms, with Bloomberry and Melco Crown to see the most benefit as they are more geared to serve the VIP market.

Revenues from VIP players accounted for 49.5 percent of Bloomberry’s gaming revenues and 43.1 percent of Melco Crown’s gaming revenues, said the report.

“We hope some tourists will find their way to our integrated resorts for their dining and entertainment experience as well,” added Ocier.

Last month, China and the Philippines signed an agreement to boost tourism-related travel between both countries and encourage investment in tourism, reported the Business Mirror.

The tourism-cooperation program for 2017 – 2022 will help to normalize diplomatic ties between both countries, which earlier saw an informal ban on Chinese leisure travels to the Philippines.

The agreement includes within it a framework to encourage investments in tourism infrastructure, and a scheme to increase tourism traffic in both countries.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) says it is targeting Chinese visitor arrivals to reach 632,947 in 2016, and 729,715 in 2017, according to the news outlet.

In 2015 Chinese tourists in the Philippines grew by 24.3 percent to 490,841.