THE DEPARTMENT of Tourism (DoT) reported on Jan. 31 that foreign tourists arrivals hit 6.6 million in 2017, 11% higher than the previous year’s 5.97 million.
The country bested the average tourism growth of Asia and the Pacific, which is at 6%, and Southeast Asia (8%), the DoT said, citing data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer.
In a press release posted on the DoT website, Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo cited the numbers as “milestone” for the agency despite the “political noise, security concerns, and travel advisories” that affected the tourism industry last year.
Based on the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP), the DoT has set a target of 6.5 million arrivals for 2017.
South Koreans remained the Philippines’ top tourism market last year with arrivals numbering 1.6 million, almost a quarter of the total tourist arrivals. Boracay and Cebu were the top destinations for South Koreans.
The market for tourists from China was observed to have remarkable 43% growth, with the DoT citing as growth drivers the improved ties between the Philippines and China, added air routes, and the Visa Upon Arrival (VUA) option for Chinese nationals.
For 2018, the DoT projects 7.4 million tourist arrivals with sports and adventure tourism taking centerstage this year as the country hosts Strongest Man, the Iron Man, and other sports-related events.