Record-high international tourist arrivals posted in the first quarter of the year present an encouraging sign that Philippine tourism is on the right track, the Department of Tourism (DOT) says.
The country welcomed 2,204,564 foreign visitors in the first three months of 2019, reflecting a 7.59 percent rise from last year’s 2,049,094 over the same period.
DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said, “The DOT is working on enhancing our tourism products and tourism infrastructure to entice tourists to choose the Philippines as their next destination.”
South Korea remains the top source market with 519,584 tourist arrivals compared to last year’s 477,087.
The period also saw the Chinese market ranking second, posting a 463,804 total, 24.87 percent higher than the previous year’s tally of 371,429.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese visitors grew to 77,908 from 59,877 in 2018, posting the highest percentage increase of 30.11 percent for the period in review.
In third spot is USA, registering 293,780 visitors, up by 3.10 percent from last year.
Completing the top 12 markets for the three-month period are: Japan, 177,769; Taiwan, 77,908; Australia, 73,147; Canada, 72,352; United Kingdom, 53,402; Singapore, 39,484; Malaysia, 37,651; India, 36,275; and Germany, 33,725.
For March numbers alone, the DOT reports a visitor arrival of 714,309 or an 11.13 percent growth versus the same month last year. Notably, France entered the top 12 for the month of March, posting 10,715 visitors, a 26.21 percent growth from last year’s March tally of 8,489 while Germany rose to 11th place with 11,075 visitors, sporting a 9 percent increase. It nudged India to 13th place, with a total of 10,086, up slightly with a 1.52 percent increase vis-a-vis 9,935 of last year.
Visiting Philippine passport-holders permanently residing abroad (not including overseas Filipino workers), otherwise known as “balikbayans,” totaled 14,610 as of March.
Secretary Puyat noted that the rehabilitated Boracay Island, touted as a model of sustainable tourism development, has attracted a growing number of visitors since reopening in October last year.
The DOT chief also credited improved connectivity for the upward trend in tourist arrivals to the country.