The Chinese government has put the Philippines in its blacklist for tourist destinations due to the ongoing operations of offshore gaming, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said.

“Ambassador Huang said that the Philippines now is part of a blacklist of tourist sites because they do not know if a tourist will be joining POGO operations and they don’t know if their nationals who go to the Philippines will be safe from illegal activities being done by the triad, by the syndicates operating POGOs,” Zubiri said at the Senate ways and means committee hearing abou the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).

“They may be kidnapped, mistaken for POGO operators. That’s the reason why there’s been a significant drop in Chinese tourists. By the way, they are the largest number of tourists pre-pandemic,” he added.

Zubiri, citing Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, said China wishes that the Philippine government will take action on this.

Zubiri said this was the reason why the country had been witnessing a “significant drop” in Chinese tourists.

He added that China was among the top sources of tourists in the country before the pandemic. Department of Tourism figures show that in 2019 the country registered 1.74 million Chinese tourist arrivals.

In September, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III expressed his concern of allowing POGOs to continue running in the country citing reported cases of POGO-related kidnappings.

Ronald Espartinez