Foreign tourist arrivals up despite calamities, says Aquino

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President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Friday said foreign tourist arrivals in the Philippines went up in the midst of natural calamities.

During his speech at the Philippine Travel Agencies Association’s Travel Tour Expo at the SMX Convention Center, Aquino said the Philippines recorded 4.7 million international arrivals in 2013, up 10 percent from last year.

This means the Philippines “is making a transition to becoming one of the best places to visit in the world,” the chief executive said.

“The goal now is not merely to maintain our growth, but to cement our position as one of the world’s vacation hot spots,” Aquino said.

He added that the country has surpassed its target of 35.5 million domestic travellers ahead of schedule, as the country tallied 37.5 million in 2011 alone.

The president said he has tasked Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez to meet the “ambitious target” of increasing the number of domestic travellers to 56.1 million.

In 2013, the Philippines suffered the brunt of major disasters, such as the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and super typhoon “Yolanda” in Central Philippines.

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