International visitor arrivals in the Philippines climbed 15.2 percent in 2019 to hit a record 8.26 million from 7.16 million in 2018, the Department of Tourism said Monday.
“This heralds a new milestone in the country’s tourism history, breaching the eight millionth mark,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.
“Without a doubt, our convergence programs with other government agencies, particularly in improving access as well as product development and marketing initiatives with local government and private sectors have greatly paid off. These gains we hope to sustain even as we face global challenges,” Puyat said.
The department said all months, except January, registered double-digit growth rates, with August posting the highest increase of 27.54 percent and December recording the highest volume of 776,798.
The DOT launched in 2019 its refreshed branding campaign, continuing the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” slogan but repurposing it to advocate for sustainable tourism.
The local launch was held at the National Museum of Natural History while the international event was in Berlin during the Internationale Tourismus-Börse.
“This is a high point for Philippine tourism as it depicts our solidarity and commitment to make tourism work and prove its full potential as a sustainable and inclusive economic activity. The record-breaking numbers solidify the effectiveness of the Tourism Act of 2009 which celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2019,” Puyat said.
Korea remained the top source market with a total of 1.98 million arrivals, up 22.48 percent from 2018. Arrivals from China surged 38.58 percent last year to 1.74 million while arrivals from the US rose 2.9 percent to 1.06 million.
Japan was the fourth-largest market with 682,788 arrivals, with an 8.07 percent growth followed by Taiwan 35.01 percent growth for 327,273 arrivals.
Other top visitor markets with their volumes and respective growth rates are Australia with 286,170 (2.27 percent), Canada with 238,850 (5.48 percent), the United Kingdom with 209,206 (4.06 percent), Singapore with 158,595 arrivals (-7.68 percent), Malaysia with 139,882 (-3.69 percent), India with 134,963 (11.43 percent) and Germany with 103,756 (12.66 percent).
The department earlier said the country remained a safe destination for travel as precautionary measures were in place to contain the novel coronavirus disease 2019.
“The DOT and the TCP [Tourism Congress of the Philippines], which represents the country’s tourism stakeholders, assure the public, especially our foreign and domestic tourists, that the Philippines remains a safe destination for travel,” the two groups said in a joint statement earlier.