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Business

Chinese visitors to Bloomberry doubled after Duterte's China trip

Warming bilateral relations already seen helping Philippine businesses

A view of Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila (Photo by Jilson Tiu)

MANILA -- Philippine casino operator Bloomberry Resorts saw the number of its Chinese visitors surge last month, suggesting that President Rodrigo Duterte's pivot to Beijing has started to benefit businesses.

Bloomberry Chairman Enrique Razon said Chinese arrivals at its Solaire casino in Manila ballooned by 140% in November and 80% in October compared with the same months last year.

"You can more or less attribute that directly to the improved [bilateral] relation," he told reporters on Thursday.

In October, Duterte made a state visit to China, the first outside Southeast Asia. His four-day visit, which yielded $24 billion in investment and credit pledges, marked a turning point for bilateral relations, which had deteriorated in recent years because of a territorial dispute in the South China Sea and the former Philippine government's hard-line attitude toward Beijing.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Oct. 20. (Kyodo)

During the visit, China also lifted a travel ban imposed on the Philippines. Manila, however, has yet to release official tourist arrival statistics for October and November.

The increase in Chinese arrivals at Solaire could further improve Bloomberry's earnings, which has seen a turnaround this year. Its net profit from January to September stood at 1.59 billion pesos ($32.02 million), compared with 1.51 billion pesos in losses last year. Gross gaming revenues grew 14% to a record high of 28.03 billion pesos.

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