In the Philippines, the output value of the tourism industry is tens of billions of dollars. Nearly five million foreign tourists visited the Philippines last year, many lingering on its tropical beaches. However, the Philippines now hopes to keep foreign tourists, including Chinese, indoors and let them spend in newly built casinos.
When tourists from abroad arrive in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, they don’t have to travel far to find casinos. Entertainment City (Entertainment City) is next to the International Airport. Two of the four casinos in the pipeline are already open. Among them is an up-and-coming resort called the City of Dreams.
When it opened in February, gaming bureau officials said the hotel-casino property would help Manila become the next Macau. Macau has been the gaming center of Asia for a long time. However, Manila-based travel writer Carlo Velasco believes that Manila is still a long way from achieving such a goal. But he is also sure that building the casino will help the local economy.
“We need to build a more diverse tourism industry in Manila. As you can see, Manila as a tourist destination still has limitations in terms of attracting international markets,” he said. Gamblers from abroad are a necessary resource for the development of Manila’s gaming industry, Velasco said.
“Casinos in the Philippines need to attract high-stakes players, and most of these big players come from the international market, mainly Chinese,” he said. In 2014, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines ranked fourth among all countries. Some observers say this is a market the Philippines should not miss.
Edieser De la Santa is a lecturer at the Asian Tourism Institute at the University of the Philippines. He said: “Chinese tourists often travel in groups and they spend a lot. The World Travel Organization predicts that China will become the world’s number one tourism market in the future.”
But since Beijing officials issued a travel warning for the Philippines late last year, the number of tourists from China has fallen sharply. De La Santa said it was likely an act of retaliation against the two countries’ territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
“The Chinese market reacted negatively to this situation. And package tours are the mainstream in the Chinese market,” he said. But the “City of Dreams” casino does not seem concerned about the decline in Chinese tour groups. Casino representatives said they would focus more on the domestic market and attracting other Asian tourists.