CASINO

Melco wants softer visa rules for Chinese touristsl

TAGs: Leonard Postrado, Melco Crown Entertainment, Philippines

Chinese gamers will have more fun in the Philippines with relaxed visa rules.

Melco wants softer visa rules for Chinese touristsThis is the belief of Melco Crown Philippines Resorts Corp. (MCP) Chief Operating Officer Geoffry Andres as the executive calls on the Philippine government to ease the visa norms for Chinese tourists.

Andres lamented how the “cumbersome” visa rules have prevented mainland Chinese high rollers from coming to the island nation amid the ongoing corruption crackdown launched by the Chinese government.

He told local reporters at the sidelines of MCP’s shareholders meeting in Manila last Monday that the Philippines barely tapped the mainland Chinese market despite the continued exodus of Chinese gamers from Macau, the world’s biggest gaming hub.

Records from the tourism department showed that China was the fourth biggest visitor market for the Philippines in 2015, registering 490,841 visitors.

Business World quoted Andres saying, “We have a big opportunity to [tap] this mainland Chinese market and one of the things on my wish list is easing the visa requirements for Chinese tourists. If we do that, that will raise all boats not only for the gaming industry, but for the tourism industry overall.”

To unlock the huge potential of the mainland Chinese market, Andres urged the new Philippine administration to ease its visa rules for Chinese tourists, pointing out that several countries such as the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand have softened visa requirements for Chinese tourists.

“You lose that spontaneous impulse by people just wanting to come and visit. If we can make it easier for people to visit… they (can) have an amazing time and they go back and tell great stories,” Mr. Andres said.

“We are seeing a lot of return visits also. We are just getting started,” he said.

Melco bullish on Philippine gaming market

Meanwhile, MCP Chairman and President Clarence Chung remains positive about the Philippine gaming market despite increasing competition and a declining regional gaming market.

Chung, who is also interviewed by reporters during the annual stockholders’ meeting, said the company has narrowed its losses by reducing expenses and focusing on non-gaming amenities.

MCP incurred a net loss of PHP1.14 billion ($24.6 million) in the three-month period, substantially lower compared to the PHP3.09 billion ($66.6 million) in the same period a year earlier, after casino revenue doubled and expenses declined.

“While we continue ramping up our financial performance and I think we are more focused on cash flow and Ebitda in the time being… hopefully our accounting losses will be reduced given improved operations in the following years,” said Chung, according to the Manila Standard.

“The Philippine gaming market probably last year posted if not the highest growth in the world at least the highest in the region for the Asian region. Philippines gaming market has grown. So we are optimistic. We will do what we will do best to continue to make this as attractive as possible and give customers great experience,” he added.

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