The Philippines and China have not had the best of relationships in the past, but things are looking better for both countries after Philippine’s president Rodrigo Duterte visit to China in October. Philippine Star reported that the President took along with him 400 delegates on the trip, most of whom were prominent members in the business community.

His visit was aimed at improving relations between the two countries and also for securing new foreign investment and business ventures in the Philippines. Casino operators in the Philippines are positive that their casinos will benefit from improved relations between the two countries. The Solaire Resort & Casino, Resorts World and Melco Crown are the three casino operators in the Philippines that depend heavily on gamblers from Mainland China.

When Beijing launched its anti-corruption crackdown in 2014, Macau’s casino industry suffered a 26 month decline in gross gaming revenues (GGR) as VIP gamblers from the Mainland decided to stay away from Macau’s casinos and travel to neighboring countries such as the Philippines and play at their casinos where the gaming laws were more liberal. During the first six months of this year, Bloomberry Resorts reported that its VIP gaming revenue accounted for 49.5 percent of overall revenues, Melco Crown’s VIP gaming revenues accounted for 43.1 percent of total revenues and Resorts World Manila recorded 36.6 percent of VIP gaming revenue.

Willy Ocier, the Vice Chairman and Executive Director of Belle Corp stated that he was optimistic that the Philippines would relax their visa requirements for Mainland China visitors. This will not only benefit the tourism industry in the country but could also have a positive impact on the integrated casino resorts as tourists from the Mainland visit their properties.

In a statement, COL financial said “China is now the Philippines’ third largest visitor market, accounting 12 percent of total tourist arrivals during the first eight months of 2016. The value of Philippine exports to China has also grown at a CAGR of 4.2 percent during the past 10 years making it our third largest export market with a 10.9 percent share in 2015.”

Tourism stats show that the percentage of tourists from China to the Philippines has grown by 19.2 percent during the last four years. This year those numbers are even higher as the number of Chinese tourists from Jan to August 2016 stood at 484,567 which was a 50.3 percent increase. Justino Calaycay of A&A Securities stated that the state visits to Japan and China have resulted in investment pledges amounting to billions of dollars that will greatly benefit a number of industries in the country such as education, health, tourism and infrastructure.