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Philippines senator calls for end to visa scheme for Chinese nationals

A Philippine senator is calling for an end to the Visa Upon Arrival scheme for Chinese nationals and this could potentially be another blow for the country’s gaming industry

There are still no signs from the Philippines government that they are ready to reopen their border for international travel anytime soon. 

The Philippines has been under strict lockdowns for more than eight months now and the government has just recently started slowly easing restrictions for locals. 

Now a Philippine senator is calling for an end to the Visa Upon Arrival scheme for Chinese nationals and this could potentially be another blow for the country’s gaming industry. 

Not only land-based casinos but also the country’s Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) are heavily dependent on Chinese nationals entering the country with a Visa on Arrival.  

Senator Risa Hontiveros showed her concerns regarding the scheme since she suggested that the scheme is increasing kidnapping numbers of Chinese casino players and POGO workers. Due to this, the chairperson of the Committee on Women, Children, and Family Relations, asked the Bureau of Immigration to take action. 

Hontiveros cited figures from the PNP Anti Kidnapping Group showing 24 incidents in 2017, rising to 35 last year. Hontiveros did Risa-Hontiverosnot elaborate why these incidents are reason enough to potentially destroy a whole industry employing tens of thousands of locals. The elimination of this scheme will have a detrimental effect on the economy as 1.74 million Chinese nationals arrived in the country in 2019, pumping as much as $2.3 billion into the Philippine economy. 

 Furthermore, after the recent POGO exodus in Manila, the estimated amount reported in May of 90,000 is much smaller now. 

 However, ending the visa upon arrival scheme will not be welcome news to the land-based casinos either. Measures to ease travel restrictions for Chinese have been key to boosting tourism numbers across the region. 

Casinos in the Philippines posted revenue of only $332 million for Q3, a decrease of 71.2% from the prior-year period.  

Additionally, the country’s casinos face increasing competition from other regional jurisdictions, such as Cambodia and Vietnam, who are doing their utmost to attract Chinese tourists. 

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