International tourism receipts jumped 190 percent in the first 10 months of 2023 to $7 billion from $2.47 billion in the same period in 2022, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Thursday.
Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco announced this as she joined the economic team of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the 2023 Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) on Wednesday at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, California.
“We have received over 4.63 million international visitors which constitutes 96 percent of our entire year’s target, contributing over $7 billion to our economy,” Frasco said.
She said the country’s economic managers agreed that tourism is the second top economic driver for the Philippines in the first half of 2023.
Tourism contributed 6.2 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022. More than 2.65 million foreign visitors arrived in the country, while 102 million domestic trips were also recorded last year.
This improved employment in the tourism sector, ending the year with 5.35 million individuals employed in tourism industries.
Frasco, during the panel discussion, said the goal of transforming the Philippines into a tourism powerhouse in Asia contributed to economic recovery. She said the development of tourism infrastructure also received priority.
“We’ve engaged in a collaboration with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the purpose of continuing the tourism road infrastructure program, and as a result of that, over 158 kilometers of tourism roads have been constructed or rehabilitated this year, with more to come in 2024 and in succeeding years,” she said.
The DOT said it is collaborating with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) not only for hard infrastructure investments but also for soft infrastructure or human capital development.
Frasco said the “Filipinization” of the country’s airports and seaports, starting with the enhancement of the Terminal 2 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), is among the priorities of the DOT.
The DOT trained over 111,000 frontline tourism workers in airports and seaports in the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence and built more tourist rest areas (TRA) in strategic locations across the country.
Frasco said the agency plans to enhance the overall tourist experience by adding 18 more TRAs on top of the initial 10 that were already functioning.
The DOT also plans to develop five cruise terminals in 2024, in collaboration with the DOTr and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), she said.