THE six-month closure of the world-famous Boracay island and negative international news did not stop foreign visitors from coming to the Philippines, as the country reached an all-time high of tourist arrivals in 2018, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced this week.
The Philippines saw 7,127,168 foreign tourist arrivals last year, which was 7.65 percent higher than the previous year. In 2017, the country only had 6.62 million arrivals.
“This is a time that celebrates the 7.1 million tourist arrival count – the highest ever in our country’s history, while at the same time championing the cause of an economic activity that can support and transform lives of common Filipinos,” announced DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Thursday, January 24.
The growth rate of the Philippine tourism surpassed the world average tourism growth and average growth for Asia and the Pacific of 6 percent, according to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer.
This tourism milestone happened amidst the closure of the country’s flagship destination and the Department’s change of leadership last year.
“The challenging act of closing down Boracay- a flagship destination, the country’s top sun-and-beach destination has evidently become a blessing in disguise for secondary tourism spots to have a share of the limelight and attention they truly deserve,” Puyat said on Thursday. “It shows that turning off the faucet when the water is unclear can bring a fresher flow in just an unexpected period of time. With this, we have also seen the transition from a mass tourism perspective shifting into a high-value tourism direction that prioritizes quality over mere quantity.”
The island’s rehabilitation opened up opportunities for alternative destinations like Siargao, Iloilo, Palawan, La Union, Romblon and Siquijor, among others attracting more foreign tourists from the different markets.
South Korea remained the country’s top source market with 1,587,959, while China recorded 1,255,258 arrivals, the most improved market with a 29.62 percent growth rate.
The United States remained at third with 1,034,396 arrivals. Japan and Australia made up the top five markets with 631,801, and 279,821 arrivals respectively.
Completing the top 12 markets are Taiwan, 240,842; Canada, 226,429; United Kingdom, 201,039; Singapore, 171,795; Malaysia, 145,242; India, 121,124, and Hongkong, 117,984.
December registered 687,726 foreign tourist arrivals second best to the month of January 2018 at 732,506.
“We are now in a time in need of vigilance – a dedication to the principle of a sustainable and inclusive tourism industry,” Puyat said.