International visitor arrivals in the Philippines grew by more than 10 times in the first quarter to 1.32 million from 102,031 in the same period last year, the Department of Tourism said Monday.
The DOT said of the total arrivals, foreign tourists accounted for 1.227 million, while visiting overseas Filipino workers represented 105,568. Arrivals increased as more countries lifted their border restrictions and the Philippines reopened its top destinations to local and foreign travelers.
South Korea continued to drive Philippine tourism with 346,192 arrivals in the first three months of 2023, representing 25.97 percent of total visitor traffic in the period.
Meanwhile, the US accounted for 241,334 or 18.11 percent of the total arrivals, while Canada and Australia accounted for 66,699 and 63,468 or 5 percent and 4.76 percent, respectively.
Japan ranked fifth with 61,415 arrivals from January to March, with a share of 4.61 percent of the total. Taiwan, China, the UK, Singapore and Malaysia rounded up the list of the top 10 country source.
Taiwan had 40,922 visiting nationals to the Philippines in the first three months of 2023 and a share of 3.07 percent. China placed 6th with 40,817 tourists; the UK, 39,147; Singapore, 33,687; and Malaysia, 24,117 tourists.
Visitor arrivals in the Philippines reached 2.65 million in 2022, surpassing the DOT’s target of 1.7 million by nearly 1 million. Tourism revenues also reached P208.96 billion or $3.68 billion, up 2,465.75 percent from 2021 revenues.
Data showed that of the total 2.65 million international arrivals last year, 628,445 were returning Filipinos while the bulk of 2.02 million tourists were tourists from top markets. Arrivals from the United States reached 505,089 in 2022; South Korea, 428,014; Australia, 137,974; Canada, 121,413; the UK, 101,034; Japan, 99,557; Singapore, 53,448; India, 51,542; Malaysia, 46,805; and China, 39,627.
Arrivals in the Philippines averaged 257,669 from 1991 to 2022, reaching an all-time high of 796,164 in January 2020 and a record low of 948 in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic.
Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said the agency was targeting 4.8 million international visitors in 2023 but expressed hope that it would surpass the target.
Meanwhile, CEMEX Philippines president and chief executive Luis Franco paid a courtesy visit to Frasco and discussed ways to work together to build a better and more sustainable industry.
CEMEX presented its waste management solutions through co-processing of wastes and its line of high quality, low carbon cement products for more sustainable infrastructures.
Franco and Frasco also discussed possible collaboration in building sustainable tourism infrastructures and projects such as the Tourist Rest Areas using blended cement.
“You speak my language, as all of the efforts and initiatives that CEMEX has done address the basic problems and concerns the LGUs face, especially in waste management. It is a simple but revolutionary approach to answer the prevailing concerns of the LGU and the tourism industry,” Frasco said.
Frasco said she was “looking forward to the possibilities of partnership with CEMEX and other tourism players who desire the development of more sustainable tourism infrastructures in the country.”