China lifts travel warning on PH after Duterte meets Xi

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2016 03:11 PM | Updated as of Oct 20 2016 05:50 PM

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) is shown the way by Chinese President Xi Jinping before a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China, October 20, 2016. Ng Han Guan, Reuters

BEIJING - (UPDATE) China on Thursday announced that it was lifting an advisory to its citizens against travel to the Philippines, as the two countries sought to repair ties that have been strained by a maritime dispute.

The removal of the advisory was among several agreements reached during President Rodrigo Duterte's meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at the Great Hall of the People here.

China issued several travel warnings since the end of naval standoff at the Scarborough Shoal in 2012. Beijing has since controlled the rich fishing grounds and continued to drive away Filipino boats even after a United Nations-backed arbitration court sided with Manila.

The decision could boost local tourism to as much as two million arrivals next year, said Aileen Clemente, president of the ASEAN tourism association.

"With the travel advisories being lifted, this makes it a very good opportunity for us to receive more tourist arrivals," Clemente told ANC's "Market Edge with Cathy Yang."

China is the Philippines' third largest market for tourists, with 422,801 arrivals in the first seven months of the year, according to data from the Department of Tourism.

The Philippines, however, lags in Southeast Asia in terms of attracting Chinese tourists, with just a 3-percent share, compared to regional leader, Thailand, which receives 30 percent of arrivals.

Clemente said the Philippines must make it easier for Chinese tourists to enter the Philippines, including making visa processign faster.

Billion-dollar casinos on Entertainment City, the Philippines' answer to Las Vegas, are also betting on Chinese tourists.

China and the Philippines also agreed that disputes in the South China Sea were not the sum total of relations, and that they would restore diplomatic and defense consultations, Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters after Thursday's meeting.

Liu said China would restore Philippine agricultural exports to China and that Beijing would provide financing support for Philippine infrastructure.