Foreign tourists in the Philippines

South Korea was the largest source of international guests in the Philippines in 2011.  The Department of Tourism (DOT) said Korea repeated its status as the strongest single market with 925,204 arrivals last year, for a 23.62 percent share of all visitor volume of 3.917 million.  The US remained the Philippines’ second-largest tourist market, with 624,527 visitors or 15.94 percent of all tourist traffic.

Helped by gains in all regional markets, the Philippines eclipsed the previous 3.52-million record for foreign visitors set in 2010 with 3.917 million visitors last year, according to Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.

“When the industry exceeds expectations as it had done last year, we feel very encouraged. And with the overwhelming response to our new brand campaign launched last month, we know that we have broken ground on crowdsourcing.  The people’s campaign will help bring more numbers,” he said.

The country capped 2011 with 394,567 tourists arriving in December, strongest among all months last year. November, however, proved to be the biggest gainer, with a growth of 19.80 percent from the same month in 2010 with 337,021 visitors. Ten out of the twelve months last year saw figures above 300,000.  The 2011 figure also includes returning overseas Filipinos, who numbered 207,152.

East Asia continued to lead all regional markets with 1.838 million arrivals or 46.91 percent of the entire number last year. Aside from Korea, other large markets in the region were Japan (375,496 visitors, 9.59 percent share of total arrivals), China (243,137, 6.21 percent), Taiwan (181,738, 4.64 percent), and Hong Kong (112,106, 2.9 percent).  China and Taiwan were the largest gainers, with growth of 29.71 percent and 27.58 percent from 2010, respectively

Australia and Canada also experienced double-digit growth to 170,736 and 117,423 arrivals, respectively.

Singapore and Malaysia provided the majority of the 331,672 visitors from ASEAN.  Emerging markets India and Russia continued their rapid ascent, improving 23.89 percent and 37.86 percent from 2010 numbers to 42,844 and 20,185 visitors, respectively. The Middle East also remained robust, registering 55,829 arrivals for a 14.60 percent climb.

Secretary Jimenez said that with the full rollout of the new “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” international campaign by April, the DOT remains confident of achieving another record-breaking year in 2012. “Our marketing resource has grown exponentially because of other people’s contributions in kind.  We will continue to build on these positive energies to attract 4.2 million this year,” he said.

Officials expect to attract 10 million international visitors by 2016 after the launch of the new country brand and the tourism reforms, according to a report by Philippine Star. “We are confident of having 10 million foreign arrivals by 2016,” Tourism assistant secretary Bong Benzon said during the launch of the 19th Travel Tour Expo 2012.

Ms. Aileen Clemente, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) said the attainment of the 10 million tourist arrival target by 2010 hinges on the resolution of issues on airline taxation, visa, connectivity and infrastructure.

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