'Visa policy on China passports won't affect tourist arrivals'

By Mayen Jaymalin, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 06 2012 08:46 AM | Updated as of Dec 06 2012 04:46 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The government’s new visa policy on Chinese passports is not expected to affect foreign tourist arrivals.

"It will not impact much on the Department of Tourism (DOT) targets since other markets are outperforming,” Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) president Aileen Clemente said.

The DOT said it expects the arrival of at least 4.5 million foreign tourists up to the end of the year.

The DOT also hopes to lure more tourists and encourage the public to participate in efforts to conserve the country’s resources with the holding of the 8th Philippine Bird Festival.

The DOT, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Wild Bird Club of the Philippines will jointly host the festival, which starts tomorrow until Saturday.

With the theme “Birdwatching is more fun in the Philippines,” the festival aims to promote bird watching as a nature tourism activity and drum up support for conservation and restoration of Metro Manila’s remaining wetlands in the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, a 175-hectare protected habitat.

The event, to be held at the Teodoro Circle in Rizal Park, is open to the public. It will feature an exhibit of bird photos, displays on the biodiversity of Manila Bay, films and lectures, bird watching trips and forums on ecotourism, birdlife management and aviation safety.

“We are pleased that so many are taking part in our vision of creating a strong tourism industry for the people. Bird watching, in particular, is a thriving tourism product that has low environmental impact since serious birdwatchers are nature lovers,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said.