South Koreans still top foreign visitors
Ria Mae Y. Booc (The Freeman) - November 18, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Department of Tourism confirmed that the Koreans are still Central Visayas’ top foreign visitors despite the strong earthquake and the super typhoon hitting the region last year.

DOT said the Korean community has an aggressive promotion of Cebu by inviting bloggers and filmmakers to shoot in Cebu.

“Just this year we assisted bloggers from Korea to regain their confidence to come back in the region and in Cebu in particular,” said Renelyn Villegas, Tourism Operations Officer I.

Based on DOT records, the Koreans top among other tourists in Central Visayas with 308,159. Out of the number, 288,230 Korean tourists are in Cebu, 17,425 in Bohol, 2,336 in Negros Oriental, and 168 in Siquijor.

They are followed by Americans with 79,946. At least 64,192 of American tourist are in Cebu, 7,492 in Bohol, 6,960 in Negros Oriental, and 1,302 in Siquijor.

Around 28,248 are Australians with 22,511 are Cebu, 2,642 in Negros Oriental, 2.621 in Bohol, and 474 in Siquijor.

But Villegas admitted that the number of foreign tourists visiting the region slowed down due to the catastrophic incidents last year.

“The challenge now is how to invite first timers to come here in the region because mostly we have repeaters…most of Koreans coming are repeaters…their confidence in coming nihinay tungod sa ilang perception nga dangerous ang Cebu tungod sa nahitabo,” Villegas explained, saying that the tourism attaché in Korea is also doing his part to revive tourism interest in the region.

She said that Koreans are not solely coming for vacation but also for studying English.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., also said that travel ban on the Philippines imposed by other countries and the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda had been the biggest hurdle to achieve 6.8 million foreign tourist arrivals this year.

He, however, said that it is still too early to tell whether the Philippines will hit the mark.

In 2013, the Philippines missed the 5.5 million target as foreign visitors reached only 4.7 million due to the earthquake and the typhoon. Still, it was a bit higher than the 4.3 million in 2012.

Despite the setbacks, Jimenez said the Philippines can still able to register growth in tourist arrivals.  (FREEMAN)

BOHOL BUT VILLEGAS CEBU CENTRAL VISAYAS DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM NEGROS ORIENTAL RENELYN VILLEGAS SIQUIJOR TOURISM OPERATIONS OFFICER I TOURISM SECRETARY RAMON JIMENEZ JR.
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