Relations between China and the Philippines may have been tense due to a territorial dispute of islands at the West Philippine Sea, but this did not stop Chinese tourists from visiting Central Visayas during the first half of the year.
The number of Chinese tourists, which made up 7.86 percent of the total foreign tourist arrivals from January to June this year, grew 93.76 percent from the arrivals for the same period last year, the highest growth from the top 10 travel markets of the region.
Figures from the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 showed 38,078 Chinese tourists visited the region this year, a big increase from the 19,652 who arrived for the same period.
Chinese tourists are ranked fourth in the top travel markets of Central Visayas.
A total of 484,547 foreign tourists came to the region, up 17 percent from the 413,535 who arrived for the same period last year.
Koreans still dominated the tourist numbers, making up 40 percent or 195,824 of the total foreign tourist arrivals, followed by Japanese tourists, who made up 18 percent or 89,419. Tourist numbers from both countries grew 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
Including domestic visitors, Central Visayas had 1.4 million tourists, up 12 percent from the 1.2 million that arrived in 2011.
Overseas Filipino workers numbered 7,873.
If broken down by groups, East Asians, which include China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, made up 61 percent of the visitors totaling 343,677. Visitors from Asean-member countries made up 2.66 percent at 14,835.
Visitors from South Asia, which include India, Bangladesh, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan and, Sri Lanka, numbered 3,098. The number dropped 30 percent from the 4,432 that arrived last year.
Middle Eastern visitors dropped eight percent from 3,881 to 3,544 while those from South America dropped 2.73 percent from 440 to 428. North Americans, which is composed of the United States, Canada and Mexico, grew 10.5 percent from 58,265 to 64,390.
Visitors from the Asia Pacific countries, which are Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Guam and Nauru, reached 19,934, up 22 percent from last year.
Western Europeans (Austria, Belgium, France, German, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Switzerland) grew two percent to 35,286 while Northern Europeans, consisting of tourists from Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom,, grew nine percent to 27,036.
Visitors from Southern Europe, which consist of the countries Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the Union of Serbia and Montenegro, numbered 5,258 while Eastern Europeans
consisting of visitors from Poland and Russia numbered 6,490.
Of the total visitor numbers, 1.098 million came to Cebu while 172,770 arrived in Bohol. Negros Oriental had 165,922 visitors while Siquijor had over 19,000 tourists.