Philippine Tourism Grows 5.8 percent in January 2014
International visitor arrivals grew 5.8 percent to 461,363 in January 2014 from 436,079 in the same month last year, according to a report by Philippine Star. Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said tourism receipts from inbound visitors in January this year amounted to US$469 million.
Korea remains the biggest source with 25 percent or 118,305 visitors, followed by the US with 71,042 arrivals and China with 9,583 visitors. The government is optimistic that the performance of the tourism sector would not be affected by the recent calamities that hit the country late last year.
Secretary Jimenez earlier said the government is sticking to its 6 million foreign tourists arrival target for 2014 while tourism revenues are expected to reach US$6 billion this year and US$8 billion in 2016.
The country’s total revenues from inbound tourists rose 15 percent to US$4.4 billion or PhPP186.15 billion in 2013 compared to the 2012 level. The higher revenues were led by the 8.7-percent improvement in the average daily expenditure of inbound tourists to US$101.12.
The overall average length of stay of visitors, however, remains at 9.6 nights. Visitors from the US had the longest average stay at 13.4 nights.
Initial data also show that arrivals likely exceeded 500,000 in February, on track to reach 6 million in the whole of 2014, based on "very good" indicators, according to Secretary Jimenez.
"It looks like we will exceed last year which means that the arrivals for February would have exceeded 500,000. We're targeting to surpass the 1 million mark in the first quarter," he said.
Visitor arrivals reached 1.27 million in the first quarter last year and 4.68 million in the whole of 2013. Secretary Jimenez said the growth in arrivals softened in the fourth quarter of 2013, but indicators pointed to a recovery in the first quarter this year.
"Our recovery for the semester after softening in the last quarter last year were coming in very strong. If you look at the January to February results, although not yet final, the numbers are very strong,” he said.
"We were supposed to close 2013 with 5 million but we ended at 4.7 million. We need a little push and we're sticking to our 6.8 million tourist arrivals target this year, because our capacity is really 6 million, so we're going to push for that," Secretary Jimenez said.
“Just to give an idea, in 2013 there were only 13 cruise ships that docked here. In February, we already had 16 cruise ships. So you can see why I am so optimistic," he said.
He said to support the growth in cruise tourism, the Philippine Ports Authority lined-up several infrastructure projects in Davao, Bohol, Boracay, Cebu, Metro Manila, Puerto Princesa, Subic, and Zamboanga, which make up the country's "major nautical cruise arteries."
"Tourism infrastructure in fact is more accelerated now," Secretary Jimenez said.
The Star Cruises-owned Super Star Gemini had an inaugural launching at Pier 15 Super Terminal at South Harbor, Manila last year from its home port in Xiamen, China.
Tourism authorities said this was the first time the Philippines was included in any major cruise packages, which included regular stops in Boracay and Manila.
Several cruise calls have been recorded since March 2010, including a German cruise ship docking at the Iloilo Port; MV Princess Danae, a Portuguese luxury cruise ship, in Davao Port; and the Royal Carribean’s Legend of the Seas docking at the Port of Puerto Princesa as part of the cruise ship's "Borneo Explorer Cruise."
"We have no capacity problem with these cruise ships because they are their own hotel, they also do not need runways. They usually just dock and use smaller boats," Jimenez said.
Tourist arrivals in 2013 fell short of the 5.5-million target. The full-year tourist arrivals, however, were higher by 9.5 percent year-on-year than the more than 4.27 million arrivals registered in 2012.