The Philippines continues to experience a positive outlook from the tourism industry despite all the odds. Yes, there is the ongoing conflict in Marawi and travel advisories from countries like the United States, but it didn’t stop tourists from visiting the country.
“Tourists are flocking to the country. We are lucky to be experiencing this. What is happening here is just the same with other places in the world like Paris and London. There are threats on security but it doesn’t stop people from travelling,” said Ms. Mao Ong, 2017 Asia Premium Travel Mart president.
According to Ong, Asian tourists have been the major source of tourists in the country. For instance, in her own Makati-based travel agency Luxus Pacific, they have been enjoying a continuous surge in luxury travellers from China. “We have felt the big difference in our company. There are more Chinese tourists visiting the country. They like coming to Boracay, Manila, Cebu, and Bohol. Although, Dumaguete is an emerging destination for them, too,” she said.
Latest Department of Tourism data showed “for the month of May 2017, visitor arrivals reached a total of 532,757, an increase of 19.60 percent compared to the May 2016 visitor count of 445,449. “
The study further noted that for the past four years the same period only generated more than 300,000 visitors, while last year posted over 400,000 visitors.
“For the first time this year, visitor arrivals in May surpassed the 500,000 mark providing a bright outlook for Philippine tourism. This positive growth in arrivals can be attributed to aggressive marketing efforts and international events, which included the ASEAN@50 meetings held in the country,” the DOT noted.
The biggest bulk of arrivals came from countries in Asia with some 63.11 percent of the total volume or 336,236 visitors. While arrivals from the Americas recorded 101,280 visitor count, forming 19.01 percent of total arrivals. On the other hand, arrivals from Europe reached a total of 46,750 (8.78 perecent) while some 25,318 arrivals (4.75 percent) were from Australasia/Pacific.
Koreans are still the highest in terms of markets supplied with 128,691 arrivals, which is recorded over 35 percent higher than last year. Early in the year, Koreans have beenposting more than 100,000 visitors in a single month, still making this market the major source of visitors to the country.
This is followed by the United States with contribution of 83,056, up by 12.78 percent.
China is thirdwith 73,649 visitor count, but it registered an escalating growth of 57.29 percent compared to its volume of 46,825 in May 2016. Japan has recorded some 44,696 arrivals with an increase of 13.38 percent from its arrivals of 39,422 for the same period last year. Taiwan reclaimed the fifth spot from Australia by contributing 22,429 arrivals, 23.67 percent higher than its visitor count in May last year. It could be noted that all top five markets recorded double-digit gains.
Completing the top 10 markets are Australia with 19,560 arrivals, Canada with 16,794 arrivals, Singapore with 15,895 arrivals, United Kingdom with 14,224 arrivals and Malaysia with 13,328 arrivals.
Ong further noted that Cebu and Bohol are attractive to Chinese tourists, because they have direct flights from different parts of China (Shanghai, Changsha, Chengdu, Guangzhou).
Arrivals from India also surged to 9,928 with 37.03 percent increase, followed by Hongkong with 9,280 arrivals. The top 20 markets this month of May includes the following: Germany with 5,887 arrivals, Indonesia with 5,045 arrivals, France with 4,676 arrivals, Thailand with 4,334 arrivals, Vietnam with 3,966 arrivals, Saudi Arabia with 3,096 arrivals, Guam with 2,865 arrivals and the Netherlands with 2,738 arrivals.
Ong also added that travel agencies like them keep guests safe. “If they only book rooms without guides and go on their own itineraries, we cannot protect them from possible harm. We give them advance warning to always travel with a companion or let someone know where they are. We give them emergency numbers to use when they are in the Philippines to contact us whenever they are in trouble,” Ong further explained.
She also emphasized that it is the country’s entry points that makes it impossible for tourists to come to the country. “Our airports are already choking. Runways are congested. Airports in the provinces are small. We do not have a proper port terminal to handle cruise liners,” said the travel expert.
The annual Asia Premium Travel Mart was held to bring more premium travelers to the country. This year, it was held at the SMX in Pasay City.