Arrivals up 14 percent in April

Nearly one million international travelers visited the Philippines in just four months, according to the Department of Tourism.

Data from the Tourism Research and Statistics Division of DOT's Office of Tourism Development Planning showed that foreign visitor arrivals hit 965,853 from January to April this year.The figure was 113,270 or 13.3 percent higher than 852,583 arrivals recorded during the same period last year.

This included the 50,842 arrivals of overseas Filipinos, which went up by 34.6 percent from 37,786 arrivals a year earlier.

Visitor arrivals grew at this pace despite the political turbulence that hogged the headlines in the first quarter of the year.

Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said that as a result of increased tourist arrivals, hotels have been enjoying high occupancy rates while tourist establishments have been employing more people this year.

Durano said he is optimistic that total visitor arrivals would top three million in 2006, up by 400,000 from 2.6 million in 2005.

Data showed that in April alone, international arrivals grew 14.1 percent to 238,941 from 209,381 a year ago.

It was also the highest figure since January this year, when the volume of arrivals jumped 22.1 percent to a record-high 268,818.

The largest groups of foreign visitors in April were from the United States, South Korea, Japan, China, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, United Kingdom, Singapore, Germany and Malaysia.

The United States remained the top market for Philippine tourism as the volume of American visitors climbed 20.3 percent to 53,369 in April, outpacing the 14.4 percent increase in visitor arrivals from South Korea to 34,180.

In the first four months of the year, arrivals from the US were up 10.2 percent to 202,880 while arrivals from Korea were up 24.5 percent to 183,883.

Volume of arrivals from Japan grew 8.3 percent to 150.170 while arrivals from China posted the highest growth of 64.3 percent to 43,511.

By region, East Asia remained the largest market, with the number of tourists from this area rising 14.1 percent to 449,598 or 46.5 percent of the total.

Arrivals from North America went up by 10.2 percent to 231,670 or 24 percent of the total.

Visitors from Southeast Asia reached 62,143 or 6.4 percent of the total; Australia/Pacific, 47,996 or 5 percent; Western Europe, 42,771 or 4.4 percent; Northern Europe, 37,251 or 3.9 percent; South Asia, 10,315 or 1.1 percent; Middle East, 9,891 or 1 percent; Southern Europe, 7,876 or 0.8 percent; Eastern Europe, 4,888 or 0.5 percent; South America, 973 or 0.1 percent; and Africa, 741 or 0.1 percent. Roderick T. dela Cruz, Manila Standard Today

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