By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – There are no more Chinese tourists left in Davao City following the one-month suspension of the direct Davao-Jinjiang-Davao flights of Xiamen Airlines amid the outbreak of the dreaded novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Chinese Consul General Li Lin said.
Lin told reporters in an interview on Monday that the last batch of the Chinese tourists who left Davao has been flown to Manila on Sunday where they were assisted by their embassy for their return back to China.
“We have already sent tourists visiting Davao and Mindanao areas during spring festival period back to China. By the latest contact with local travel agencies here in Davao, they reported to me that no Chinese tourists are still remaining in Davao,” he said.
He added the Chinese tourists were not compelled to leave Davao but were only “advised” since the lifting of the suspension of the Davao-Jinjiang flights remains uncertain.
“The Davao-Jinjiang (suspension) is for whole month of February. Those flights are cancelled. If they want to stay, they might not be able to go back to China, or maybe they can in the coming month,” he said.
Xiamen Airlines opened twice weekly Davao-Quanzhou, China direct flights on December 18, 2018 to serve as an air bridge to better enhance bilateral trade relations with Jinjiang, Davao’s sister city since 2007.
Data from the City Tourism Office showed that Chinese tourists in Davao City surged to 14,934 last year or an increase of 37.93-percent compared to 10,827 recorded in 2018, making China the second biggest market of Davao’s tourism industry, according to data from the City Tourism Office (CTO).
The exponential growth in the arrival of Chinese visitors dwarfed even that of Americans and Japanese last year. The record showed that Americans, who topped the list, grew by 3.36-percent from 21,324 in 2018 to 22,041 while the Japanese visitors grew only by 3.44-percent from 12,800 in 2018 to 13,241 last year.
Lin said their consular office in Davao will continue normal operations although they noted fewer visa applications since the global outbreak of 2019-nCoV, first reported in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019.
“Our work is still very normal but we want to follow both instructions from China and also travel and advice of the local government as well as the Philippines national government. The number of visa applicants to our office is very small, in other respect, we are operating very normal,”