Sunday, 20 December 2009

Tourists grew by 17% to 5.2M in Q3

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The third quarter, considered the lean season in the local tourism industry, exceeded expectations as tourist arrivals grew by 17 percent to 5.2 million visitors, the Department of Tourism said.

In its recent quarterly report, the DoT said new tourism destinations, facilities and increased frequency of flights to the regions boosted the influx of local and foreign visitors to major destinations. The increase in the meetings, conferences and incentive travel market in destinations like Palawan also contributed to the hefty growth in visitor volume, the tourism department said.

Cebu was the most visited destination with 1.24 million visitors, posting a growth rate of 1.8 percent vis-à-vis the previous year’s volume of 1.21 million.

It was followed by Camarines Sur, fast becoming known for its beaches and surfing sites, with 1.23 million tourists. Domestic travelers to the province grew by 163 percent, while foreign arrivals rose by 29 percent, the report said.

Bohol and Puerto Princesa also showed improved tourist volumes.

Travelers from the Northeast Asian market accounted for the bulk of total foreign tourists at 59 percent, with Chinese and Taiwanese arrivals posting shares of 23 percent and 16 percent, respectively, the tourism department said.

During the first nine months, the volume of domestic tourists increased by 21 percent, while foreign tourists grew by 2.7 percent. This performance positioned the industry for greater growth in the fourth quarter.

One of the best 25

Last month, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the National Geographic Magazine had included the Philippines in its list of “25 Best New Travel Destinations
in the World in 2010.”

The magazine had cited the Philippines’ ancient cultures, structures and biodiversity as key reasons for visiting the country.

The list, published in the magazine’s November 2009 Adventure issue, is directed at “travelers who want their money to do more—for others, for the planet and for themselves.”

According to the magazine, the Philippines has been largely ignored because of “bad PR.”

“While it harbors as many islands as the Caribbean and some of the most spectacular reefs on the planet, the nation sees only a fraction of the visitors of nearby Thailand,” it said.

Private tourism companies said they expect 2010 to be a banner year for the country’s travel market as the world economy is on its way to recovery.

Republic Act 9593 or the National Tourism Act of 2009, which took effect last month, is expected to boost the country’s campaign to attract more visitors next year.

Tourism is key

RA 9593 declared tourism as an engine of investment, employment, growth and national development. It also strengthened the DoT and its attached agencies.

“Tourism is the key economic driver of the country. High tourism means high production; a robust tourism industry translates to a robust economy. [RA 9593] is a tool to make sure infrastructure support is put in place and to identify priority areas of development,” said former Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor, who was elected presiding officer in the recently held First Tourism Congress.

“The whole idea to streamline the operations of the tourism department will give more ‘feet’ to the country’s marketing and promotional efforts,” Gabor noted.

The tourism industry faced numerous challenges this year. The country had fewer tourists caused by global recession, the A(H1N1) scare, devastating typhoons and insurgency in Mindanao.

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