Puyat says tourist arrivals break record
The Philippines set an all-time tourist arrival record last year with the visit of more than 7.1 million foreign tourists, mostly from Korea and China.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said 7,127,168 foreigners visited the Philippines last year, up 7.65 percent from the 6,620,908 arrivals in 2017.
“This is a time that celebrates the 7.1 million tourist arrival count, the highest ever in our country’s history,” Puyat said in a statement.
Puyat noted that the milestone was reached despite the six-month closure of Boracay Island, the country’s flagship destination, and the change of leadership in the Department of Tourism (DOT) last year with the resignation of her predecessor over corruption charges.
She said Boracay’s closure opened opportunities for alternative destinations, such as Siargao, Iloilo, Palawan, La Union, Romblon and Siquijor.
South Korea remained the country’s top source of tourists with 1,587,959 arrivals while China was a most improved market, growing by 29.62 percent at 1,255,258 arrivals.
The United States remained in third place with 1,034,396 arrivals, followed by Japan, 631,801; Australia, 279,821; Taiwan, 240,842; and Canada, 226,429.
Completing the Top 12 are the United Kingdom with 201,039 arrivals; Singapore, 171,795; Malaysia, 145,242; India, 121,124; and Hongkong, 117,984.
December registered 687,726 foreign tourist arrivals becoming the second best to the month of January 2018 with 732,506 arrivals.
Puyat said the country’s arrival growth rate is comparable to the Asia-Pacific growth average of 6 percent, citing data from the World Tourism Organization’s World Tourism Barometer.
Puyat on Thursday led the review of the government’s National Tourism Development Plan for 2016-2022 which was attended by DOT officials, tourism stakeholders and partners from the private sector.
“We are now in a time in need of vigilance—a dedication to the principle of a sustainable and inclusive tourism industry,” Puyat said, noting a shift in priorities from mass tourism to high-value tourism.
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