In her year-end assessment, on a 10-month period from January to October this year, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat revealed yesterday that the country received 5.8M foreign arrivals, a growth of 7.38% year-on-year despite the temporary closure of Boracay, the Philippines prime destination, from April to October this year.
Asked if the country will remain on target with DOT’s initial forecast of 7.4 million set early this year Puyat said,”I am confident that it will surpass the previous year’s; but I don’t think it will reach 7.4 million but we will be happy with 7- to 7.2 million arrivals.”
Even then, the growth despite Boracay’s closure is cause to be glad. Boracay island, voted the best beach/the best island and belonging to the top 5 beaches for several years, is a major contributor to Philippine tourism and economy; nevertheless, the growth reflects the country’s diversity wherein DOT and the private sector were successful in diverting tourists to other attractions in the country.
Puyat also elaborated on the support of other government agencies in its tourism programs like convergence with other government agencies and private sector partnerships past and future.
“As soon as we sat, we were able to talk with the Department of Justice that oversees the Bureau of Immigration. There will be no more face to face with immigration officers for Philippine passport holders because of the E-gates that eliminate long queues. That helped in the image of the Philippines as up to the times. With the Department of Transportation, the Cebu-Mactan and the Bohol Panglao airport just opened and we are continuing to improve the secondary airports as well. Hopefully we can allocate more budget to add to more night-rated airports. With DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), we have the Tourism Road Infrastructure Program or TRIP, we need more tourism roads, this year alone. Php30.9 billion was allocated for TRIP alone. With the private sector, we have a tie-up with Cebu Pacific with regards to responsible tourism by handing out trash bins for major tourist destinations and ads’ tie-up with Jolibee will give us a free commercial with regards to culinary tourism to come out next year and also Ayala Malls with 29 properties that will commit a free space for three days on all events to promote culinary tourism that will showcase local cuisine, chefs and farmers who are engaged in farm tourism, as farm tourism is a law,” Puyat related.
“Shoemart has gotten in touch with me and we will think of other tourism projects ,” she added.
Among the foreign arrivals, Korea remained on top followed by a surging China with a 30.7% growth from last year, the U.S.A. Japan, and Australia.