Tourist arrivals rise 7.2% in 11 months

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Driven by the surge in Chinese arrivals, the number of foreign tourists went up by 7.2 percent in 11 months last year – a notable achievement considering the six-month closure of Boracay Island, the country’s top tourism destination.

Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed a total of 6.4 million foreign tourists visited the Philippines from January to November last year, higher than the six million foreign arrivals in the same period in 2017.

The increase was attributed to the influx of tourists from China, which made up for the continued decline in Korean arrivals, posting a 30.02 percent rise to 1.16 million from 890,114 in 2017.

However, Korea, despite a sluggish performance in recent months, remains the top source market for tourists with a total of 1.42 million arrivals in 11 months, a 2.67 percent decline from the previous year’s 1.46 million arrivals.

Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. earlier told The STAR that the reopening of Boracay is expected to lure in more Korean tourists as the beach island remains a favorite destination.

Boracay soft-opened on Oct. 26, six months after President Duterte ordered its closure to pave the way for an extensive rehabilitation.

The US remained as the country’s third largest source market in 2018 with a total of 929,808 arrivals, an 8.12 percent rise from 859,973 in 2017.

This was followed by Japan and Australia with a total of 577,995 and 242,827, respectively.

Other markets in the top 12 are Taiwan, Canada, United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia, India and Hong Kong.

In 2017, foreign arrivals exceeded its 6.5 million target as it reached 6.6 million. 

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat earlier said she is not confident of hitting the 7.4 million tourist arrivals target for 2018 under the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP).

Puyat said she is expecting foreign arrivals to reach around seven million to 7.2 million by the end of the year.

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