International visitor arrivals rose 15 percent in the first 10 months to a record 6.8 million from 5.91 million a year ago on the back of strong tourism traffic from Korea and China.
“The collective efforts and resolve of the whole tourism industry have paid off with the continued increase in our visitor arrivals and tourist receipts as well as recognitions from major international award giving bodies,” said Tourism secretary Bernadette Puyat.
The 10-month figure was just 1.4-million short of the full-year target of 8.2 million international visitor arrivals in 2019.
Data showed Korea was the top source of visitor arrivals with 1.6 million in the 10-month period, up by 21.75 percent from a year ago. This is expected to further improve following the signing of the tourism cooperation between the Philippines and Korea, the DOT said.
China came in second with 1.5 million arrivals, representing a 41-percent growth from the same period last year. It was followed by the United States with 872,335 (up 2.5 percent), Japan with 569,625 (up 7.43 percent) and Taiwan with 282,220 (up 36.77 percent).
Puyat attributed the encouraging figures to the improved air connectivity, intensified marketing promotions including the refreshed “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign, budding relations with other countries and the growing recognition of the country’s sustainable tourism advocacy.
The DOT said arrivals via air comprised 98.77 percent or 630,666 visitors in October. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport served as the main gateway for s396,446 tourists.
Cebu, which was recently included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Network of Creative Cities, followed with 131,217 arrivals.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 earned the top prize in the Completed Buildings-Transport Category at the recently-concluded World Architecture Festival.
Air arrivals at Kalibo totaled 59,467 while arrivals at Clark reached 35,236. Other airports yielded 8,300 arrivals.
On top of the growing tourist arrivals, the Philippines bagged back-to-back diving accolades at the World Travel Awards in Muscat, Oman, besting eight other global dive destinations including Azores Islands, Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Galapagos Islands, Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Maldives and Mexico.