Monday, 10 September 2007

Intl visitors to RP up by 11 pct

Original report at ABS-CBN News

International visitor arrivals to the Philippines soared 11.6 percent in July 2007 from a year ago, as foreign tourists looked beyond the security headlines to enjoy the country's magnificent spots, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Monday.

Data from the Tourism Research and Statistics Division show that foreign visitor arrivals hit a record of 281,032 in July 2007, compared to 251,884 during the same month last year. It was also higher than 250,227 arrivals registered in June.

"There was no single month this year that arrivals fell below 200,000 this year," said Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano. "This is a milestone year for the tourism industry."

The double-digit increase in arrivals from Korea, China, Hong Kong, India, France, Germany, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden led the overall growth in July and offset the decline in arrivals from Japan and slower growth in arrivals from the United States.

In the first seven months of 2007, total volume of visitor arrivals hit 1.81 million, up by 8.2 percent from 1.672 million arrivals during the same period in 2006. The DOT said it hopes to attract at least 3 million visitors this year, in line with its medium-term target of 5 million visitors by 2010.

Topping the sources of tourists in the Philippines during the seven-month period were Korea, with 375,010 visitors on a 16.7 percent growth and the United States with 362,896 on a 1.8 percent increase from a year earlier.

The increase in arrivals was achieved this year despite the different security concerns such as the kidnapping of Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi, the bombings in central and western parts of Mindanao, and escalation of hostilities between government troops and Islamic rebels in the island provinces of Sulu and Basilan in Mindanao.

"So far, in my sales missions abroad this year, I have not been asked about security issues a single time. What they asked is where are new hotels opening," Durano said.

Jose Clemente III, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, confirmed this, saying the business is good this year, although this is being limited by lack of new hotels and tourism infrastructure, which may affect the government's goal of drawing in five million tourists by 2010.

The tourism department expects tourism receipts to top $2.9 billion or P133 billion this year, on the back of a 20.1 percent annual growth in average tourism expenditure.

Durano said private businesses continue to benefit from this growth as the amount goes directly to the hotels, restaurants, spas and resorts, souvenir shops, entertainment and transportation services, which are the front liners of the tourism sector.

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