Arrivals hit a record high of 2.843 million
International visitor arrivals to the Philippines hit a record high of 2.843 million in 2006, according to the Department of Tourism. "2006 was a good year for Philippine tourism," said Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, adding that prospects for 2007 are even better, with the expected completion of new resorts and accommodation facilities that will bring the total number of hotel rooms to about 18,000 by yearend.
The Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) earlier complained that the country has been losing 500,000 foreign tourists and $400 million in tourism revenues annually, because of inadequate hotel rooms, particularly in the provinces.
Durano, however, said the present situation presents a fertile environment for growth in the accommodation sector. "Prior to 2004, the erratic industry performance slowed investments. As it recovered, and with the consistent growth in tourist volume and the pressure placed on capacities, the business sector is moving swiftly to take advantage of the upward swing," he said.
Data from the DOT's Tourism Research and Statistics Division show that the number of foreign tourists who visited the country last year represented an 8.4 percent growth over the previous record of 2.623 million in 2005.
Durano said the robust arrival figures have been favorable to support fresh investments in accommodation facilities.
"The accommodation sector is now expanding. We are reaping the fruits of our collaborative marketing efforts with the increase in visitor demand, urging the hotels and resorts to fast track expansion programs while fresh investments continue to pour in to build new ones," the tourism chief said.
Korea edged out the United States as the top market for Philippine tourism last year. Arrivals from Korea, representing a fifth of the total, went up by 16.9 percent to 572,133 in 2006 while arrivals from the United States were up 7.4 percent to 567,355.
Visitors from Japan increased 1.5 percent to 421,808 while arrivals from China soared 24.3 percent to 133,585. Other top origins of foreign tourists in the country last year were Taiwan, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Germany.
Durano said that in Visayas alone, additional 3,300 rooms will be made available for tourists this year. These include 1,500 new rooms in Boracay; 1,350 rooms in Cebu City and Mactan Island; and 500 rooms in Palawan.
Future hotel developments include the 616-room Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa being built by Korean investors in Lapu Lapu City on the island of Mactan.
In Metro Manila, Durano said new hotel developments include Megaworld's first-class full serviced hotel in Pasay City, to be named Manila Mariott Hotel and at least two hotels that SM Investments will construct at the Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City.
"International hotel chains like the Intercontinental, Bayan Tree and Ritz Carlton are seriously looking into locating their properties in the country," Durano added.
The average room stock in Metro Manila posted a 12.6 percent growth from 12,385 rooms in 2005 to 13,407 rooms in 2006. Developments have been significant in the first class and economy class hotels, with an 87.42 percent and 44.5 percent growth in room supply, respectively.
As of November 2006, occupancy rate among the 18 deluxe hotels in Metro Manila averaged 81.26 percent, which means that most of them were operating at full occupancy levels.
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