Marcos targets '10-fold increase' in tourist arrivals for Philippines

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Marcos targets '10-fold increase' in tourist arrivals for Philippines
This photo taken on December 12, 2023 shows tourists paddling their kayaks while others take photos inside the Big Lagoon in El Nido town, Palawan province.
AFP / Ted Aljibe, File

MANILA, Philippines — The administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. plans on increasing the country's tourist arrivals by 10-fold as the Philippines aims to become the region's next "tourism behemoth."

Marcos shared this vision with fellow Filipinos, comparing the past Balikbayan program with the country's current target during the launch of the Tourist Rest Area (TRA) in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte on Friday.

"Our ambition is [then] was one million tourists. That was the ambition. One million tourists can come back. That includes overseas Filipinos. That's why balikbayan boxes started pouring in since we didn't tax it," said Marcos in a mix of Filipino and English on Friday.

"Now, we are targeting 10 times that. And we have started to approach that but there are many aspects to tourism. It’s not just the beautiful beach. It’s not just the beautiful rest house or the nice hotels and the resorts that they stay in."

Enacted in November 1989, the country's Balikbayan Program aimed to attract and encourage Filipinos residing abroad to visit the Philippines.

Marcos said that achieving the new goal would require building facilities and infrastructure to ensure ease of travel, along with providing tourists better access to the country's top destinations.

The head of state noted that building TRAs could help the Philippines reach new heights due to stiff competition from neighboring Asian countries when it comes to the tourism industry.


Countries believed to be excelling in promoting tourism include Thailand, Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam.

With this, the administration is focused on improving regional gateways so tourists visiting the Philippines could go directly to regional destinations without transiting Manila.

"So, like in Cebu, you already have that facility. People can travel from abroad directly to Cebu," the president pointed out.

"We will make it so that people will travel from abroad directly to Laoag, directly to Bohol, directly to [Cagayan de Oro], directly to Tacloban. All of these other places that we want to promote as tourist destinations."

The Department of Tourism (DOT) earlier said that the country exceeded it's targeted number of visitor arrivals in 2023, reaching 5.45 million tourists and producing over P480 billion in tourism reciepts.

In line with this data, the DOT earlier set a baseline target of 7.7 million arrivals this year for the Philippines.

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