THE substantial increases in inbound travelers from the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan have helped fuel the expansion in overall tourist arrivals in the Philippines for the first quarter of 2019.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) obtained by the BusinessMirror showed arrivals from China grew by 24.87 percent to 463,804, and those from Taiwan rose by 30.11 percent to 77,908 in January to March 2019.
Some 2.2 million foreign tourists were welcomed by the country in the first three months of the year, up 7.6 percent from the same period in 2018. This was a considerable slowdown, however, from the 14.8-percent increase in the first quarter of 2018, which enabled the country to reach an historic-high 2 million arrivals in that period.
In a news statement, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said the sizable increase in arrivals for January-March 2019 is an encouraging sign that Philippines tourism is on the right track. “The DOT is working on enhancing our tourism products and tourism infrastructure to entice tourists to choose the Philippines as their next destination,” she said.
She likewise noted that the rehabilitated Boracay Island, touted as a model of sustainable tourism development, has attracted a growing number of visitors since reopening last October.
The DOT chief also credited improved air connectivity between several Philippine destinations and the world, for the uptrend in tourist arrivals.
Romulo Puyat will have been one year on the job as tourism chief on May 14. After her announced appointment, Romulo Puyat had vowed to go over DOT contracts with a fine-tooth comb and to keep the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan. (See, “New DOT chief vows to be tough on corruption; will keep ‘It’s More Fun in the PHL’ brand campaign,” in the BusinessMirror, May 10, 2018). She relaunched the brand campaign in Manila and Berlin earlier this year.
South Korea still top source
Meanwhile, South Korea remains the top source market for tourists, growing by 8.91 percent to 519,584 arrivals; followed by China; and the United States at 293,780 tourists (+3.1 percent).
The Japanese market, which came in fourth place, slipped by 1.88 percent to 177,769 in arrivals. Other source markets which posted declines in arrivals were Australia at 73,147 (down 1.2 percent); the United Kingdom at 53,402 (down 5.52 percent); and Singapore at 39,484 (down 11.07 percent). DOT officials have yet to respond to queries on why arrivals from these traditionally strong markets dropped. It was pointed out, however, that the Philippines has yet to appoint a marketing representative for Singapore.
Other major markets of the Philippines posted increased arrivals such as Canada at 72,352 (+2.63 percent); Malaysia at 37,651 (+1.51 percent); India at 36,275 (+9.93 percent); and Germany at 33,725 (+17.06 percent).
For March 2019 alone, substantial increases in arrivals were recorded for the top 12 markets such as South Korea (29.75 percent), China (38.31 percent), Taiwan (33.83 percent), and France (26.21 percent). However, these increases were overshadowed by dips in other markets such as the US (-1.27 percent); Canada (-1.68 percent); Australia (-8.36 percent); the UK (-20.7 percent); and Singapore (-6.28 percent).
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