Tourism Sector Sees Promising Growth Amidst Pandemic
In a recent announcement, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco revealed that the Philippines has welcomed more than four million foreign visitors since the beginning of 2023, marking a significant milestone in the country’s tourism sector. This surge in arrivals, totaling 4,005,465 visitors, has contributed over PHP316 billion to the nation’s tourism spending, providing a much-needed boost to the economy.
Optimistic Outlook for Year-End Target
Speaking at the 2023 Travel Sale Expo, held at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, Frasco expressed her delight in reaching the four-million mark in international arrivals. She credited this achievement to the concept of “revenge travel” and the anticipated influx of tourists during the upcoming holiday season.
Optimistic in the face of challenges, she remains confident that the Philippines can achieve or even exceed its target of 4.8 million arrivals by the end of the year.
International Allure of the Philippines
Frasco emphasized the Philippines’ enduring popularity as a global destination.
“The Philippines continues to be a top-of-mind destination all over the world. We have a number of award-winning destinations. We’re optimistic that we will be able to meet if not exceed the target set for the end of the year,” she stated.
Key Markets and the Chinese Resurgence
South Korea leads the list of top tourist markets for the Philippines, with 1.04 million visitors this year. It is followed by the United States, Japan, China, and Australia. Notably, the Philippines has welcomed 194,209 Chinese tourists so far this year, marking a significant resurgence compared to the pandemic’s impact, which saw Chinese travelers exceeding 1.7 million before the global health crisis.
DOT’s Commitment to Tourism
Frasco assured stakeholders in the tourism sector that the Department of Tourism (DOT) remains dedicated to promoting the Philippines as a premier destination.
“Tourism is back. What I can assure our partners in the private sector in the tourism sector is that we will try to, as best as we can, to match the hard work (they) put in to ensure that this industry continues to thrive,” she affirmed.
Visa Reforms and Electronic Visa System
In an effort to attract more Chinese tourists and tap into emerging markets, the DOT is actively pushing for visa policy reforms. Frasco expressed hope that the new electronic visa system, piloted in China last August, would facilitate smoother entry for visitors.
The Impact of Travel Sale Expo
The ongoing three-day Travel Sale Expo is expected to further stimulate travel activities within the country. Frasco stated,
“It will also help our key destinations like Boracay, Cebu, Palawan, Bohol, and the like, including our emerging destinations in other parts of the country.”
A Unified Effort
Chairperson Michelle Taylan, head of the 2023 Travel Sales Expo, emphasized that the event not only promotes tourism but also sustains jobs in the tourism industry. Taylan extended an invitation to all tourism stakeholders, regardless of accreditation, as long as they operate legitimately within the Philippines.
As the Philippines continues to open its doors to international visitors, meanwhile, the nation’s tourism sector remains a beacon of hope and resilience amidst the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic. Furthermore, with innovative policies, unwavering dedication, and a renewed sense of optimism, the country is well on its way to reclaiming its status as a top global destination.