With a 15 percent increase in its target for this year, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is confident that it will reach its goal of getting 8.2 million tourists to visit the Philippines.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that the target is achievable despite rehabilitations and temporary closures of top tourists’ destinations in the country, as people begin taking interests in other tourist spots in the Philippines.
She said that though Boracay was closed for six months last at the height of the tourism season, tourists’ arrivals in the country in 2018 still increased by 500,000 from 6.6 million in 2017 to 7.1 million in 2018.
Koreans, Chinese, Americans, Japanese, and Australians are among the foreign nationals who frequently visit the Philippines. Koreans are the top tourists in the country, but the highest increase was noted with the Chinese citizens. The number of Chinese visitors who came to the country has increased by 30.71 percent from 810,807 in 2017 to 1,059,788 in 2018.
Puyat described the closure of Boracay as a blessing in disguise, as it has led people to discover alternative destinations in the country such as Bohol, Siargao, La Union, and Bicol.
The Tourism Secretary also stated that the newly opened airports in the country would help achieve the country’s tourism goal. She emphasized its importance, as the Philippines is an archipelago and tourists need a more convenient mode of transportation to reach the top destinations in the country.
In 2018, the country had exceeded previous years’ tourist arrivals but was not able to reach its target of 7.4 million.
To rehabilitate the island and upon the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, an interagency task force composed of the DOT, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Interior and Local Government, has shut down the Boracay islands for six months. This caused a loss of 480,000 tourist arrivals on the island, as Boracay receives some 80,000 tourists per month.