Chinese tourists power visitor arrivals

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THE first four months of 2018 saw foreign visitor arrivals in the Philippines grow by 12.35 percent to 2.64 million.

Department of Tourism (DOT) data obtained by the BusinessMirror showed the increase could be attributed to the dramatic 52.65-percent growth in the number of tourists from mainland China.

DOT Spokesman and Undersecretary for Tourism Development Planning Benito C. Bengzon Jr. described the arrivals from January to April as “very respectable, with the increase being above the curve of the growth in tourism in Asia [6 percent] and around the world [4 percent].”

He added, “China is now the second-biggest market, recording a growth rate of 52.65 percent in the first four months of the year. We’re also seeing very strong growth in our other core markets. With the exception of Taiwan, all other markets are growing steadily. This has helped contribute to the overall rise in tourist arrivals.”

He declined to say if the DOT is still on track to meeting its year-end arrivals target of 7.4 million, even as travel agencies and tour operators estimate a drop by some 500,000 tourists with the closure of Boracay Island. “We don’t want to speculate at this point,” said Bengzon.

South Korea continued to be the top market for tourists—592,060 visitors to the Philippines from January to April 2018, or 6.12 percent more than the same period last year. China followed at 481,218 (+52.65 percent); the United States, 370,519 (+7.18 percent); Japan, 230,199 (+9.04 percent); and Australia, 99,319 (+6.5 percent).

Bengzon said the Japan market remains strong despite reports of lower bookings by some tour operators. “230,000 still a record. But more importantly, people have to understand the 9-percent growth rate is higher than the growth rate for the outbound tourism of Japan….  As far as we’re concerned, Japan arrivals growing by 9 percent this year has helped keep the visitors growth rate at double digit.”

The official said the DOT  is pushing its marketing efforts in Japan, and will be heading to Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka next week for the annual Philippine Business Mission. “The secretary [Bernadette Fatima Romulo Puyat] will be heading the delegation. This will be her first overseas trip as tourism secretary and this says something about the importance of Japan as a source market.”

Other than the headcount, Bengzon noted that Japan is also a large contributor to the country’s visitor receipts, or tourist expenditures.

Other top source tourism markets from January to April 2018 were: Canada, 89,659 (+11.24 percent); Taiwan, 82,827 (down 3.93 percent); the United Kingdom, 74,434 (+9.16 percent); Singapore, 59,891 (+10.32 percent); and Malaysia, 48,861 (+3.41 percent).

Markets that showed vast improvements in arrivals include Hong Kong, whose arrivals increased by some 23.4 percent to 47,101; and India, which posted a 20.35-percent rise in arrivals to 43,020.

He confirmed some weakness in the Taiwan market in the past few months, and said he would look into the issue.


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