“This will be a milestone year for the tourism industry,” Tourism Secretary Ace Durano declared. “First semester statistics registered more than 1.5 million foreign tourist arrivals, and with the upbeat and sustained momentum of visitor influx into the country, we are looking at breaching, for the first time, the three million mark by year end,” he added.
Latest figures released by the Department of Tourism (DOT) show that arrivals for the first half of the year registered a 7.6 percent growth compared to the same period last year –a figure that supports the optimistic forecast.
With this welcome development and the upcoming peak season, the department also foresees increased visitor receipts to as much as US$2.9 billion or PhP133 billion this year. Visitor expenditure growth averaged 20.11 percent over the last three years, making the industry one of the top dollar earners.
Private sector and industry stakeholders continue to benefit from this growth as the amount goes directly to the hotels, restaurants, spas and resorts, souvenir shops, entertainment and transportation services – front liners of the tourism sector.
In 2006 alone, travel and tourism contributed an estimated 3.49 million jobs, strengthening the position of the sector as one of the employment generating industries of the national economy.
More than increased visitor arrivals, revenues and jobs generated, over US$2 billion investments have been poured into tourism estates, hotel and resorts developments in the country spread out into other emerging destinations such as Marinduque and Eastern Samar. The DOT, together with the local governments, is positioning other destinations such as South Cotabato, Bantayan Island, Pampanga and Camarines Sur for both travelers and investors to consider.
Durano revealed that an international luxury resort company is developing a six-star hotel in Elephant Island, Marinduque –a prime example of the global business community’s revived interest in the country.
Moreover, additional new routes have been opened such as Korea-Davao, Korea- Kalibo, Taipei-Cebu, and Shanghai-Cebu, among others. With India and Russia identified as the emerging and fast-growing travel markets, the department is currently negotiation new routes from these countries. Together with the Department of Foreign Affairs, visa-upon-arrival arrangements are also being finalized. Inter-island connectivity has likewise improved with flights increasing over the past year.
“It is still very much a supplier’s market for the industry as resorts and hotels are overwhelmed with the strong demand for rooms. It is a good challenge to have and we need to ensure that infrastructure development preserves and sustains the natural resources in these areas,” Durano noted.
“Our country is a multi-destination, offering a wide variety of activities and attractions anywhere from historical walks to water sports. This effectively reflects our culture, a total experience we aggressively and proudly promote in our target markets. More than activities and destinations, our strength and best asset is our people. We are famous worldwide for our warmth, generosity and hospitality. The milestone the industry has achieve confirms that we are on the right track and that we have set the momentum for 2008 and beyond,” Durano enthused.
Sources: Tourism Authority of The Philippines.