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Tourist arrivals up

MANILA, Philippines - International passengers arriving at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) will reach 4.5 million by yearend and continues to grow at an average 9.9 percent yearly, the government said yesterday.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said South Korea still leads as the biggest source of tourists, followed by the United States and Japan.

“Remember that in January, we reached 40,000 tourists a month from mainland China and we will reach half a million once all travel groups have normalized,” he said.

“Chinese are slowly coming back. We are scheduled to pass the four million (mark) already and by the end of December 2012, we will be at 4.5 million from (January to December).”

Speaking at the inauguration of the duty-free shop stores at the NAIA Terminal 1 yesterday morning, Jimenez said in terms of tourist receipts, the Philippines could count on having a higher income since 98 percent of tourists arrive by air.

“We will reach 10 million tourists by the year 2016 and it would be a big income for us,” he said.

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On the complaint that the Philippines lacks infrastructure, Jimenez said the administration has practically started from scratch.

“Of course when you started yesterday, it would be unfair to say that you should have an excess of infrastructure,” he said.

“If you’ll remember, nine years ago, in Bangkok, all were complaining about the airport traffic congestion, but now... Thailand is profiting from the high volume of tourist arrivals.

“The important thing is that we’re congested, meaning tourists are coming, it would be bad if our airports are too slack,” he said, meaning that there are few tourists coming in.

“Watch out, first week of December, our overseas Filipino workers and balikbayans will start to arrive at the airports for the holidays.”

Lorenzo Formoso, Duty-Free Philippines COO, said shortly after the renovation, average sales grew by as much as 35 percent.

“I am sure this also makes the Manila International Airport Authority very happy,” he said.

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