Over Three Million International Tourists to the Philippines in First Half 2017

Philippines Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo (Photo: ABS-CBN News)

More than 3 million foreign tourists visited the Philippines in the first half of 2017 (January to June), according to data provided by Philippines Department of Tourism (DOT).

Foreign tourist arrivals for the period of January to June of 2017 jumped by 12.7 percent to 3.357 million compared to 2.978 million in the same period in 2016, DOT Secretary Wanda Teo disclosed in a Congressional budget hearing.

Teo also said that South Korea remained the top tourist market with 795,085 visitors (a 23.68 percent share of total inbound traffic) while US and China came in second and third with 513,443 (15.29 percent) and 454,962 (13.55 percent), respectively.

She attributed the rise in tourist arrivals from emerging markets and China as a significant factor to the improved tourism numbers and industry performance. Chinese arrivals were up by 33.44 percent with 454,962 visitors compared to last year’s 340,958. The good evolution is due to a warming in relations between both countries following the change of administration in the Philippines.

Notable increases were also gained by India at 23.41 percent with 54,663 visitors and Canada at 18.41 percent with 108,243 visitors.

“In the face of challenges, the country continued to receive the growing influx of tourists from across the globe, desiring to see our world-class destinations,” Wanda Teo said.

The 3.357 million figure comes despite terror threats and President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 23 showing that the events did not put a dent in tourism numbers.

Last month, the Congress granted Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year to give troops more time to crush the Maute terror group in the most-southern part of the island.

Teo, meanwhile, vowed to pursue a more competitive branding campaign to reach its goal of acquiring 7 million foreign tourists by year end.

It may be recalled that the Congress already agreed to raise the DOT’s 2018 budget including a PHP1 billion marketing fund (US$ 198 million).

The DOT chief said that the marketing fund “would go a long way” in boosting the agency’s branding campaign that will be at par with those of ASEAN neighbours.

(Source: Philippines News Agency)