TOURISM COOPERATION. Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco and China's Culture and Tourism Minister Hu Heping during the signing of the Implementation Program on Tourism Cooperation on Wednesday (Jan. 4, 2023) to push for bilateral tourism cooperation between the Philippines and China. In 2019, the Philippines recorded 8.26 million international visitor arrivals where China placed second as the country’s top tourist market with a total of 1.74 million arrivals. (Photo courtesy of DOT)

MANILA – The Philippine and Chinese governments are committed to bringing back pre-pandemic levels of tourist arrivals and resuming direct flights, especially between Manila and Beijing.

The commitment came following the signing of the Implementation Program (IP) of the Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism Cooperation for 2023 to 2028 between the Department of Tourism and the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) on Jan. 4.

“We are grateful for China’s commitment and interest in partnering with the Philippines as we usher in this new era of tourism focused on building the industry into a stronger, more sustainable, and more resilient economic pillar for the country’s transformation into a tourism powerhouse in Asia,” Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said.

The implementation program with China is expected to generate massive employment opportunities and investments across all sectors of tourism.

"Our governments will work together on increasing tourist arrivals, resuming and adding direct flights to key and emerging destinations, joint promotional activities, and inviting tourism investments in infrastructure, among others,” Frasco added.

Under the agreement, both countries will encourage and support the exchange of their respective administrators and tourism professionals to strengthen the mutual development in the field of hotels, resorts, cruise, port, tourism products and other related industries and competency standards.

It also covers cooperation on tourism safety where both parties will make joint measures to guarantee the rights, interests and safety of tourists visiting each other’s country.

Local tour operators and travel agencies will also take part in the IP by jointly advertising both countries' tourist offerings through promotional materials.

Collaborative workshops and training sessions will cover topics including cruise/port development, tourism products and lake development, understanding the tourism market and industry, search and rescue operations for first-aid measures as well as security measures.

Both the Philippines and China are expected to support each other’s tourism departments and enterprises in holding travel fairs, tourism exhibitions and other promotion initiatives.

Frasco said the newly signed IP would also encourage investments in tourism infrastructure and enable cooperation in the development of more tourism projects.

A technical working group composed of officials from the DOT and MCT will meet at least once a year or whenever necessary to further discuss the implementation covered in the agreement.

In 2019, the Philippines recorded 8.26 million international visitor arrivals where China placed second as the country’s top tourist market with a total of 1.74 million arrivals.

MCT Minister Hu Heping signed the IP on behalf of China in the presence of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In a joint statement Thursday, the two leaders welcomed the signing and acknowledged that "people-to-people exchanges are crucial in promoting understanding between the two states".

The two leaders also agreed to further strengthen local cooperation, promote practical cooperation and conduct friendly exchanges among sisterhood provinces and cities of the two countries. (PNA)