Arrivals top 3 million

International tourism receipts in the Philippines surged 41 percent year-on-year to about $4.9 billion in 2007, as international visitor arrivals grew 8.7 percent to a record 3.092 million.

“2007 was a year of breakthroughs for Philippine tourism, as visitor traffic and tourist spending soared to unprecedented levels,” Tourism Secretary Joseph said.

Data showed that foreign arrivals grew 8.7 percent in 2007 from just 2.843 million in 2006 while tourist expenditure soared 41 percent from $3.782 billion.

Visitor receipts moved up with the substantial hike in the average length of stay from 12.06 nights in 2006 to 16.70 nights in 2007. The peso appreciation has made the cost of travel to the Philippines a little more expensive last year, but this was in line with the trend in Asia, Durano said.

At $4.885 billion, international tourism receipts, on top of domestic travelers’ expenditures, accounted for 4 percent of the gross domestic product in 2007, surpassing the 3 to 4 percent contribution of the BPO and call center industry.

This level was achieved despite a tense political period in the fourth quarter, when blasts occurred at a major shopping mall and at the House of Representatives and a group of renegade soldiers laid siege on a luxury hotel in Makati.

Durano said the growth in tourist spending translated to the increase in revenues of hotels, restaurant, airlines and other establishments in the tourism sector that employ millions of Filipinos.

In 2008, the DOT targets $5.8 billion in international tourism receipts, surpassing two years earlier the medium-term goal of $5 billion in 2010.

In terms of volume, foreign arrivals are expected to rise 8 to 10 percent year-on-year to about 3.3 million in 2008, according to Durano.

“Our ultimate goal is to attract not only more tourists, but also higher value visitors who stay longer and spend more, generating more opportunities for the country,” he said.

Korea emerged as the top tourist market for the Philippines in 2007, with arrivals from the East Asian country rising 14.2 percent to 653,310 accounting for about a fifth of the total arrivals.

Arrivals from the United States grew 2 percent to 578,983 but arrivals from Japan fell 6.4 percent to 395,012.
Other top sources of tourists in the Philippines were China, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“More and varied types of tourists are being lured to the country. These include golfers, divers, students, honeymooners and families. Promotional activities have presented the country as an ideal destination for learning the English language and other forms of educational travel as well as medical tourism,” Durano said.

In Europe, the Philippines is being promoted as a highly competitive scuba diving destination and Durano said the plan is to further strengthen the country’s position as one of the best water sports destinations in the world.

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