PH now in China's blacklist of tourist sites amid POGO woes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11) — The Philippines has been placed under China's blacklist of tourist destinations due to issues hounding the POGO industry, Senate President Migz Zubiri said Monday.

"Because of the problem of POGO, the Philippines now is blacklisted and tourists now are discouraged to go to the Philippines," Zubiri told a Senate hearing, citing information from a meeting with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian.

"The Philippines now is part of a blacklist of tourist sites because they do not know if the tourist will be joining POGO operations and they do not know if the Chinese nationals who go to the Philippines will be safe from illegal activities being done by the triad, by the syndicates operating POGO. They may also be kidnapped, mistaken as POGO operators," Zubiri added.

Zubiri said this was the reason why the country had been witnessing a "significant drop" in Chinese tours.

The lawmaker said China was among the top sources of the local tourism market, which is vital to revive the industry. Data from the Department of Tourism showed that Chinese tourist arrivals in 2019 reached 1.74 million.

In September, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said allowing POGOs to continue running is "dangerous." This came following reported cases of POGO-related kidnappings.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Eimor Santos contributed to this report.