MANILA, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- The number of Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines declined by 70 percent this year compared to figures registered three or four years ago, the Bureau of Immigration said Tuesday.
Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison said the Chinese had been the country's top visitors before they were dislodged by the Koreans two years ago.
Mison said China currently ranks number four behind Japan, the United States, and South Korea in terms of tourist arrivals.
"There was a big drop, about a 70 percent drop (in tourist arrivals from China). Chinese tourists who visited the country numbered close to one million before. Now only about 200,000 to 300,000 Chinese tourists (visit the Philippines)," he said.
Mison said the 2010 Luneta bus hostage crisis in the Philippine capital city that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead may have discouraged Chinese tourists from visiting the country.
Figures released by the bureau showed that from Jan. 1 until Dec. 5 this year, the country's top 10 tourist markets were South Korea (1.01 million), United States (649,664), Japan (371,122), China (312,395), Australia (181,585), Canada (123,404), China's Taiwan (101,162), Singapore (97,927), the United Kingdom (97,371), and Malaysia (97,134).
Mison said he expects these figures to change as December is considered a brisk month for Philippine tourism. During this period, around 400,000 to 500,000 tourists usually visit the country.