Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Tourist arrivals in Cebu soar

Manila Bulletin

Despite the global financial crisis that resulted in the shutdown of businesses in various industries, the number of tourists that arrived in Cebu for the month of January alone showed there is no recession in the tourism industry here.

Last January, the number of Chinese travelers surprised tourism officials, posting an increase of 204 percent compared to the figure in the same period of 2008, said Department of Tourism Undersecretary Phineas Alburo.

“We were surprised at the figures because of the very significant increase,” said Alburo, although he was not able to provide the exact number of visitors for the month of January.

Russian visitors, who stay on an average of 12 days in Cebu, also increased by 133 percent, while visitors from the new market, India, soared by 108 percent in the first month of the year, despite the fact that the country does not have direct flights to and from India.

The figures are based on the records of the Bureau of Immigration regarding the number of tourists who landed at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, said Alburo. Overall, he said tourist arrivals in Cebu tallied five percent growth.

“The industry has not been affected that much. The tourism industry in Cebu continues to be vibrant, and tourism-related businesses continue to hire people,” said the Cebuano undersecretary.

As this developed, Alburo said a direct Manila–New Delhi flight will open up by August to capitalize on the growing Indian market. The flights could be accelerated depending on the response of the market, he said.

Based on records, Indian tourists are the biggest spenders in Singapore, shelling out money for shopping and nightlife. These offerings are available in the Philippines, said Alburo, and with the direct flight to New Delhi, the number of Indian tourists is sure to increase.

Alburo also said that the DoT is in talks with other concerned officials to make the country more accessible to the Middle East market, which is now considered a big market for tourism.

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