Manila, Philippines — Philippine tourism may yet realize its full potential as a top dollar-earning industry even as the legislature strongly agreed to boost next year’s budget of the Department of Tourism (DOT), including a P1 billion marketing fund.
This surfaced as lawmakers rallied behind DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo to mount an “all-out promotion campaign,” as she disclosed yet another double-digit increase in international visitor arrivals for the first semester.
“Amidst setbacks and mounting challenges, tourist arrivals are way up. Beefing up the DOT’s war chest, at least restoring it to its previous level (P1B), would go a long way in boosting our branding campaign that will be at par with those of our Asian neighbors,” Teo stressed.
Teo broke the welcome news Wednesday at the budget hearing conducted by the House Committee on Appropriations, disclosing that foreign tourist arrivals for the period of January to June of 2017 rose by 12.7 percent from 2,978,438 in 2016 to 3,357,591 this year.
South Korea remained as the top tourist market for the country, posting 795,085 arrivals, representing 23.68 percent share of total inbound traffic; followed by the United States with 513,443 (15.29 percent); China, 454,962 (13.55 percent); and Japan, 294,080 (8.76 percent).
Teo noted the surge in tourist arrivals from emerging markets, as well as China, as a significant factor to the higher figures and better tourism industry performance.
Chinese arrivals jumped 33.44 percent with 454,962 visitors compared to last year’s 340,958.
Notable increases were also gained by India at 23.41 percent (54,663 arrivals) and Canada at 18.41 percent (108,243).
Teo said the spike in visitor influx in January with 631,639 arrivals set the momentum for steady increases over the first six months of the year.
“In the face of challenges, the country continued to receive the growing influx of tourists from across the globe, desiring to see our world-class destinations and experience the renowned Filipino hospitality,” Teo said.
During the congressional hearing, the DOT chief reiterated the agency’s commitment to a more competitive branding campaign as it sets higher targets for the coming years.