Tourist arrivals in PHL breach 1-M mark in 6 months

THE Philippines received 1.18 million foreign tourists from February 10 to August 7, four months earlier than what was projected by private tourism stakeholders.

The latest arrivals data was revealed on Thursday by Tourism Secretary-designate Christina Garcia Frasco in a speech before the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She also revealed, “The DOT (Department of Tourism) is also working on new regional tourism circuits that will highlight nature-based tourism, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and  Exhibitions) tourism, food and gastronomy, heritage and culture, farm and agri-tourism, health and wellness, arts, and more. All these tourism dimensions will get equal promotion, attention, and support as we expand ourselves from the traditional portfolio and explore multidimensional tourism.”

The event was CCCI’s “Go Explore Cebu: A Tourism Summit” held at the Sky Hall Seaside Cebu-SMX Convention Center, which was attended by some 200 stakeholders from the tourism industry, representatives from the local government units, and the businesses community.

Top markets

Data from the DOT also showed, of the total arrivals for the period, some 66 percent or 778,746 were foreign tourists, while the rest, at 400,007, were overseas Filipinos. Tourists from the United States still dominated the arrivals markets at 227,732 (or 19.3 percent of total); followed by South Korea at 127,833 (10.84 percent); Australia at 51,349 (4.4 percent); Canada at 47,772 (4.05 percent); and the United Kingdom at 46,282 (3.93 percent).

Rounding up the top 10 tourism markets from February 10 to August 7 were: Japan (36,104); Singapore (19,596); Vietnam (19,201); India (18,645); and Malaysia (16,421). Last April, the Tourism Congress of the Philippines boldly predicted 1 million foreign tourist arrivals before the end of 2022, judging from the avalanche of bookings from overseas of member-travel and tour agencies. (See, “’Fearless forecast’ of 1-M foreign tourists by yearend,” in the BusinessMirror, April 29, 2022.)

In her speech, meanwhile, Garcia Frasco told Cebu business executives that the DOT “will also see to it that the quality of our tourist destinations and product offerings meet international standards through rigorous establishment accreditation and product audits. Currently, our Office for Standards Regulation is reviewing our accreditation requirements to address gaps and incorporate emerging tourism standards that cater to the needs of modern travelers.”

‘Uniform look’ at airports, seaports

She likewise informed summit participants that she and Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista agreed to enhance the arrival and experience of travelers to the country. “Some of the DOT’s recommended enhancements include the installation of signages that will have a uniform look in all air and seaports, as well as the use of lighting, backdrop, and furniture that will distinctly reflect the ‘Filipino Brand’.  We want the experience to be positive for all senses that when our guests arrive and leave, they will have good memories of the Philippines. There will also be interactive displays that will feature various artists and artisans  to make the airport experience extraordinary and experiential for travelers.”

The DOT chief last week also confirmed a change in the branding campaign and slogan to promote the Philippines. A number of tourism stakeholders, however, urged the DOT to retain it for consistency. (See, “Tourism leaders to DOT: ‘Let’s keep having fun’,” in the BusinessMirror, August 11, 2022.)

The Tourism summit was a feature of the Cebu Business Month (CBM) celebration, now on its 26th year, and a flagship project of the CCCI. Its theme this year, “Realign, Reinforce, Rebuild,” seeks to inspire tourism stakeholders despite the continuing challenging post-pandemic environment.