International visitor arrivals increased by nearly a fifth in May to break the 500,000 mark for the first time, the Tourism Department said Wednesday.
“For the first time this year, visitor arrivals in May surpassed the 500,000 mark providing a bright outlook for Philippine tourism. This positive growth in arrivals can be attributed to aggressive marketing efforts and international events which included the Asean@50 meetings held in the country,” the department said in a statement.
Data showed visitor arrivals hit 532,757 in May, up 19.6 percent from the May 2016 visitor count of 445,449.
Arrivals in the first five months also increased 14.7 percent to 2.88 million from 2.52 million a year ago.
The biggest volume was recorded in the month of January while the highest growth was registered in April, data showed.
January saw the biggest chunk of arrivals of 631,639 while April posted the highest growth rate of 19.8 percent.
“This record-breaking numbers, which began during the Miss Universe month, clearly indicates a bright outlook for Philippine tourism,” said Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo.
The Department also attributed the strong growth to aggressive marketing efforts abroad and high-profile international events held in the country within the last 12 months, like the Madrid Fusion and the recent United Nations World Tourism Organization conference.
“The Department will continue to tap new and emerging markets including little known tourist destinations and sites which are priority growth areas for tourism development,” Teo said.
She expressed confidence that the increasing pattern in visitor arrivals would likely continue throughout the rest of the year and break last year’s 5.9-million arrivals.
South Korea remained the top market, delivering a total of 128,691 arrivals visitors in five months, with an impressive growth rate of 35.84 percent.
The Department sent a delegation to the Korean Travel Fair in May where they met with Korean travel operators and Seoul-based media.
The US held on to the second spot with 83,056, yielding another double digit increase of 12.78 percent.
Improved Philippines-China relations resulted in 73,649 Chinese visiting the country, an increase of 57.29 percent from a year ago.
Beijing lifted travel advisories against Chinese visits to the Philippines following President Duterte’s state visit to China in October 2016.