China continues displaying disapproval of so-called POGOs (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) but it has now decided to stop tolerating Chinese nationals participating in activities that take place in the flourishing POGO industry. The country has now moved with a stricter measure, as it officially included the Philippines in its blacklist of overseas tourism destinations.
The move is linked to the reported cases of worker exploitation, kidnappings, and overall unlawful activities that have been associated with the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators sector. After the announcement, the gambling regulatory body of the Philippines – PAGCOR – has said that none of the aforementioned illegal gambling operations should be referred to as POGOs as they do not have the necessary licenses and, in the first place, were not eligible as such operators.
The Philippine businessman Migz Zubiri, who is also President of the Senate, got in contact with the Chinese ambassador Huang Xilian, who officially informed him of the decision of the country to suspend the Philippines as a tourist destination for Chinese nationals. Mr. Zubiri delivered the message to his fellow legislators, saying that it was the “POGO problem” that has forced China to take such measures against the Philippines. He warned that the decision is to undoubtedly have a massive negative impact on the country’s tourism industry.
Zubiri said that the Chinese authorities have decided to take such strict measures as the Philippine Government had given them no assurance as to whether Chinese citizens visit illegal operations and whether they are safe when they visit licensed POGO operators, too. The decision of the Chinese Government to include the Philippines in its travel blacklist means that the country may soon face financial difficulties due to the lack of one of its main tourist groups. According to reports, about 1.25 million Chinese tourists visited the Philippines back in 2019.
Recent Wave of Crackdown Measures against POGOs Unveiled by the Chinese Government
The aforementioned blacklist is not new. In fact, it has been around for some time, since the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism first announced it back in August 2020, with both countries and cities included in the blacklist that bars Chinese people from visiting them.
At the same time, the Chinese Government has been very strict about letting local people visit the special administrative region of Macau to gamble, instructing customs officers to discourage such behavior.
As a result of the more serious restrictions, many people have been returned. The Philippines has been demonstrating its willingness to make sure that Chinese nationals and offshore industry staff members come to no harm. The regulation of the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators was the first step in the process, but the recent wave of crackdown measures against operators that offer their services without the necessary permits is another.
Apart from that, the Philippines are repatriating a total of 48,000 people who worked in unlicensed POGOs. So far, the Government of the country has not announced how it intends to mitigate the negative effects of China’s decision to include it in its travel blacklist and whether addressing the crackdown is a priority.