Performers in traditional costumes welcome tourists at the reopening ceremony of Boracay Island, a tourist attraction in the Philippines, in October, after the island underwent a six-month cleanup. (Photo/Xinhua）
The Philippines has seen a surge of Chinese tourists since the start of this year amid improving bilateral ties.
According to a report from the Philippine Department of Tourism, the number of Chinese tourists to the Southeast Asian country during the first three quarters surpassed 970,000, exceeding the full-year total seen in 2017.
In 2017, the Philippines received around 968,000 Chinese tourists.
The report showed that China, following South Korea, is the Philippines' second-largest source of tourists, with a growth of 34.9 percent and a share of 18.14 percent of total international arrivals in the January-September period.
His country is aiming for between 1.5 and 2 million Chinese tourists this year, the Philippines Ambassador to China Jose Santiago L. Sta. Romana said in an interview with China Daily, adding that people-to-people exchanges are important.
Boracay Island, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, reopened in October－six months after it shut down for renovations needed after years of unrestrained mass tourism.
Sta. Romana said he expects more Chinese tourists will go there.
As a tourist destination, the Philippines is loaded with attractions like plenty of sun, gorgeous beaches, picturesque scenery and outdoor adventure opportunities, said Cao Cheng from Caissa Touristic, a Beijing-based travel agency.
"Boracay is very popular among Chinese tourists going to the Philippines as it's close to China, travel experiences are pleasant and costs aren't too high," Cao said.
As many travelers chose to visit the island before it closed, the number of Chinese tourists going there should increase sharply in the coming months, particularly during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday period in February, he added.
The surging Philippines tourism market is backed by convenient flights from China. Currently, there are more than 300 flights linking the two countries.
Tourism has now become one of the most critical industries of the Philippines, responsible for more than 5.3 million jobs. In 2017, the Southeast Asian country welcomed 6.6 million international tourists, contributing 12.2 percent to the country's GDP.