MANILA, 1 July 2022: Despite the pandemic, domestic tourism soared in 2021 by 38.6% to just over 37 million, according to the Department of Tourism data released earlier this week.

The DOT and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) presented encouraging industry figures in the 2021 Philippine Tourism Satellite Accounts (PTSA) and Tourism Statistics Online Dissemination forum held on  Tuesday.

According to the PTSA report, domestic tourism totalled 37,279,282 trips in 2021, a 38.16% growth compared to the 26,982,233 trips in 2020. Figures confirmed the importance of domestic travel in the Philippines at a time when lockdowns virtually shut down international travel to the country.

Aerial view of Puka beach in Boracay Island, Western Visayas, Philippines.

But the 2021 performance remained well off the 2019 tally that delivered 122.1 million domestic trips.

Domestic travellers headed for the National Capital Region (1,973,851), followed by  Calabarzon (1,953,419), and Central Luzon (1,905,758).

“The DOT attributes the resurgence of domestic tourism to the collaborative efforts of the national and local government units to standardize health and safety protocols, reinforced by the active participation of tourism stakeholders from the private sector. This, and the Department’s aggressive campaign on domestic tourism carried out with our regional offices, and with the help of local tourism offices across the country, restored Filipinos’ confidence to travel,” explained DOT Branding and Marketing Communications Assistant Secretary Howard Lance Uyking.

Meanwhile, the report estimated tourism employed 4.9 million individuals in 2021, 4.6% higher than the 4.7 million employed in 2020. Tourism contributed 11.1% to the total employment of the country.

DOT noted the decline in foreign visitor arrivals as Philippine borders remained closed last year. The country recorded 163,879 visitors from January to December 2021, a decline of 88.95% from 2020 arrivals of 1,482,535.

The USA dominated the top visitor markets of the country with 39,326 arrivals. Japan, which ranked fourth in 2020, claimed the second spot with 15,024 arrivals. China followed in third place with 9,674 arrivals. India (7,202) rose to fourth place with Canada (6,781) in the fifth spot, while Korea, the country’s top source market for many years, fell to 6th place with 6,456 arrivals.

Turkey and the United Kingdom ranked 7th and 8th, respectively, with each contributing more than 4,000 arrivals. Completing the top 10 markets are Middle East countries, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with more than 2,000 arrivals each.

Manila, as the country’s main gateway through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, maintained the lion’s share of the total air arrivals with 142,448 or 86.92%. Mactan-Cebu International Airport followed, receiving 11,119 visitors (6.78%), and the Clark International Airport with 9,964 (6.08%) arrivals.

Visitor spending or tourist receipts generated in 2021 recorded an estimated PHP8.49 Billion, a decrease of 89.67% from the visitor receipts of PHP82.24 Billion recorded in the previous year.

Tourist spending averaged PHP7,000 a day in the Philippines and stayed for an average of 10.58 nights.