CHIANG MAI, 22 January 2018: Philippines’s Department of Tourism officials confirmed the country attracted 6.8 million tourists in 2017, up 15% on the 2016 performance.
A delegation of tourism officials and private sector executives is attending the ASEAN Tourism Forum this week in Chiang Mai confident that the country could register 8 million tourist arrivals in 2018.
The Philippines trails four of the 10-member countries in ASEAN in tourist arrivals. At 6.8 million it performs better than Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, but seriously lags behind Indonesia, (15 million), Malaysia (31.8 million) and Thailand (35.58 million) and Singapore (16.4 million).
In 2016, the Philippines registered 5.97 million visits, just short of the 6 million target. In 2017 it performed better increasing arrivals by 15% to reach 6.8 million, just short of the DOT’s target of 7 million.
Officials said the strong 2017 growth rate was achieved against a backdrop of political noise linked to the war on drugs, and the terrorist occupation in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Mindanao, which resulted in a five-month battle to liberate the town’s residents.
At a press gathering with local media in Manila last week, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon said she was confident that the country’s tourism had the momentum to attract 8 million tourists this year, higher than the National Tourism Development Plan’s target of 7.4 million. The NTDP (2016 to 2022) plots a course to 2022 when tourists arrivals should reach 12 million.
In addition to attracting more tourists from South Korea, the US and China, the country is attracting more Russians—mainly due improved political relations between Moscow and Manila, Corazon said.
She also expects more tourists from China now that relations between Beijing are Manila are warming.
Visits from China should exceed 1 million trips this year after arrivals came close to a million in 2017.
Another positive factor is the improvement in daily spend now estimated at USD133 and the length of stay at an average six days.
In 2016 South Korea was the top supply market delivering 1.48 million visits, representing 24.75% of total arrivals. The US was second in that year, but by the end of 2017, China was poised to pass the US as the strongest market and could surpass South Korea in first place by 2019.