Foreign arrivals up 10.24 percent despite Boracay closure
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - July 13, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign arrivals from January to May increased by 10.24 percent despite the closure of Boracay, driven by the continued influx of Chinese tourists, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

In the general membership meeting of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) Philippines, Tourism Undersecretary and spokes- man Benito Bengzon Jr. reported that visitor arrivals in the first five months reached 3.18 million.

Foreign arrivals in May posted monthly growth as it inched up 0.94 percent to 537,743 arrivals.

“We’d like to think that the .94 percent growth is still respectable, considering the fact that you have closed one of the most iconic destinations in the Philippines, which saw about 2 million foreign and domestic visitors last year,” Bengzon said.

Boracay was ordered closed to tourists for six months, starting April 26.

The DOT earlier reported that foreign arrivals from January to April grew 12.35 percent to 2.6 million compared to 2.3 million tourists in the same period last year.

Bengzon said the continued influx of Chinese tourists also contributed to the overall growth in the first five months of 2018.

China remained the fastest growing source market, growing at a rate of 43.81 percent with a total of 559,289 tourist arrivals. This accounts for 17.60 percent of total foreign arrivals during the period.

Chinese travelers are still mainly drawn to the country’s resort destinations such as Cebu, Bohol, Boracay and Palawan.

“This explains why over the last several years, we’ve had a large amount of chartered flights to these destinations and the traffic is not only coming from the major cities in China. They are coming from the second tier, third tier cities in China,” Bengzon said.

Despite the Chinese market significantly contributing to the arrival numbers, it still remained the second largest source market behind South Korea, which accounted for a 22.20 share of total arrivals in the first five months.

Arrivals from South Korea grew 2.76 percent during the period to 705,548 arrivals.

The US was the third largest source market with 463, 273 arrivals, growing by 8.05 percent.

Closing the top five source markets were Japan and Australia with 275,943 and 120,598 arrivals, respectively.

Other top source markets in the first five months were Canada with 109, 133 arrivals; Taiwan with 101,372 arrivals; United Kingdom with 89,782 arrivals; Singapore with 75,862 arrivals; and Malaysia with 61,040 arrivals.

Under the National Tourism Development Plan, the DOT is targeting foreign arrivals to hit 7.4 million this year.

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