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Phl records 5.45 million international visitor arrivals, breaches 2023 target

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By Marinel Peroy

The Philippines brandishes its accomplishment for the international arrivals this 2023 with 5.45 million on the record, albeit still around 3 million away year the pre-pandemic level.

Based on the update provided by the Department of Tourism, the more than five million international visitor arrivals from January 1 to December 31, 2023, yielded more than ₱480 billion in international tourism receipts.

From the 5,450,557 international visitors who entered the country from January 1 to December 31, 2023, 91.80 percent or the bulk of international arrivals recorded at 5,003,475 are foreigners, while the remaining 8.20 percent or 447,082 are overseas Filipinos.

The new record is around 650,000 higher than its target of 4.8 million international visitors projected to visit the country for the entire year.

South Korea, US and Japan are top international visitors

South Korea retains its top spot as the country’s main source of international visitors, getting 26.41 percent of the pie which delivered 1,439,336 foreign tourists. It was followed by the United States with 903,299 tourists (16.57 percent) visiting the country; then Japan with 305,580 (5.61 percent); Australia with 266,551 (4.89 percent); and China with 263,836 (4.84 percent).

Other foreigners who visited the country from other top source markets after China were from Canada, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Surge in International Tourism Receipts

Meanwhile, Department of Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco noted that the country’s local tourism industry is recovering faster than expected. 

The country’s international tourism receipts have surged at an estimate of ₱482.54 billion from January 1 to December 31, 2023. This is higher by 124.87 percent compared with the ₱214.58 billion estimated visitor receipts from the same period last year. In 2019 or pre-pandemic period, the DOT recorded ₱482.15 billion in international tourism receipts.

The Philippines has also reached an estimated 66 percent recovery rate for its all-time high international visitor arrivals achieved in 2019.

Bullish Outlook for 2024

Banking on the significant increase in tourist arrivals in the Philippines, the DOT is targeting a baseline target of 7.7 million international visitor arrivals in 2024.

“My deepest appreciation goes to every tourism stakeholder, collaborative partner, and passionate contributor who propelled our shared aspirations forward. Under President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s guiding vision and leadership, tourism has become a pivotal force driving our nation’s economic resurgence,” said Secretary Frasco.

“These numbers speak very well of the performance of the tourism industry under the Marcos Administration. Since we took office, we have set our goals for the industry not only in terms of international visitor arrivals but most importantly, the number of Filipinos, including their families, who will benefit from the opportunities generated by our constant and continuous efforts to make the industry prosper more than what we have aimed for. We assure the President, including our partners from the public and private sectors, that we will continue to realize the vision of this administration to make tourism a catalyst for economic growth and resurgence,” she added.

Realization of NTDP goals 

In May 2023, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. approved the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023 to 2028, the administration’s blueprint and development framework for the tourism industry, officials said Tuesday.

It contains the DOT’s seven strategic goals formulated under the helm of Secretary Frasco, which is the improvement of tourism infrastructure and accessibility; cohesive and comprehensive digitalization and connectivity; enhancement of overall tourist experience; equalization of tourism product development and promotion; diversification of the tourism portfolio through multidimensional tourism; maximization of domestic and international tourism; and strengthening tourism governance through close collaborations with national and local government units and stakeholders.

Philippines remains top of-mind destination

The past year for the tourism industry may have been a mix of challenges and successes. Still, as recognized by preeminent award-giving bodies and publications, the Philippines remains a top-of-mind destination among travelers.

This was signified by the six major accolades from the World Travel Awards (WTA) received by the country as 2023 World’s Leading Dive Destination, World’s Leading Beach Destination, the World’s Leading City Destination for Manila as well as Asia’s Best Cruise Destination, and Asia’s Leading Dive Destination. For the first time, the Philippines also earned the spotlight on its inaugural win for the Global Tourism Resilience Award for demonstrating “global leadership, pioneering vision, and innovation to overcome critical challenges and adversity.”

During the previous year, the country also garnered more than 15 travel and tourism honors from prestigious award-giving bodies in the categories including diving, beach, cruise, culinary, retirement, and Muslim-friendly tourism, “a testament that the Philippines is indeed an emerging tourism powerhouse.” according to Secretary Frasco.

“Looking ahead to 2024, our commitment to the transformation of Philippine tourism is unwavering. Guided by our National Tourism Development Plan 2023-2028, we are poised for a thriving tourism landscape, evident in surpassing our targets in international and domestic arrivals and receipts, fostering economic prosperity and further job creation for our people,” Frasco added.

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