INTERNATIONAL arrivals in the Philippines have breached the 4-million mark, just a stone’s throw away from the government’s 4.8-million baseline target for the year.
In a news statement, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said the 4-million arrivals were reached on September 29, which brought in an estimated P316 billion in visitor receipts. The total arrivals for the period were 35 percent less than the 6.16 million who arrived from January to September 2019.
Of the total international arrivals this year, some 3.67 million (91.6 percent) were foreign nationals, while the rest at 337,426 were overseas Filipinos. Overseas Filipinos are defined as Philippine passport holders who are permanently residing abroad.
Top source markets
South Korea remained the top source of foreign tourists with some 1.05 million in arrivals, representing 26.12 percent of total; followed by the United States with 679,090 (16.95 percent); Japan with 221,671 (5.53 percent); China with 194,258 (4.85 percent); and Australia with 187,143 (4.67 percent).
Other key sources of foreign tourists were Canada with 164,168 in arrivals (4.1 percent); Taiwan with 146,396 (3.65 percent); the United Kingdom with 114,096 (2.85 percent); Singapore with 107,674 (2.69 percent); and Malaysia with 72,008 (1.80 percent).
“We are very close to our target of 4.8 million by the end of this year. So I continue to encourage our friends from all over the world to show their love for the Philippines,” said Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco.
The DOT’s main goal is to transform the Philippines into a “tourism powerhouse of Asia” by diversifying its tourism portfolio, and at the same time, expanding its niche markets such as sun and beach tourism, golf, dive, and MICE (meetings incentives conventions exhibitions), as well as film and heritage tourism.
Full recovery in 2025
In a recent forum at the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, DOT Undersecretary for Finance and Administration Shereen Gail C. Yu-Pamintuan acknowledged that the full recovery of the Philippine tourism sector will not likely happen until 2025.
“I think what we can expect is that we will continue to recover in the next year. Based on the global trends, it has been predicted that we will be able to reach our prepandemic levels of international tourist arrivals by 2025. So what we have been doing is to prepare the Philippines for the influx of all of these international tourists who will be visiting the Philippines and to continue to promote our country as one of the prime destinations here in Asia.”
The Philippines recorded 8.26 million international tourists in 2019, with visitor receipts reaching US$9.31 billion or P428.15 billion that year.
Meanwhile, Pamintuan said the DOT is working with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and the Department of Health to build “Baywatch emergency sensors,” especially in the country’s award-winning destinations. “It is sad to note that Boracay, which is one of our leading beach destinations, does not have the proper emergency Baywatch facilities that we would like it to have. So we did make an inventory of all the available hospitals, clinics across the Philippines and [are] about prioritize to pilot emergency Baywatch sensors in many of our award-winning destinations and we hope to be able to break ground on all of those also next year.”
At that forum attended by some members of the diplomatic corps, it was assured that the Philippines will receive more tourists from Europe once the free trade agreement between the Philippines and the European Union is signed. (See, “More European tourist seen with EU-PHL free trade pact,” in the BusinessMirror, September 21, 2023.)
Image credits: Ninlawan Donlakkham | Dreamstime.com