The number of foreign tourists welcomed to the Philippines in the first quarter of this year has reached a record high of 2.2 million.
The total is an increase of 7.6 per cent on last year, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has announced. She added that her department was anticipating that the overall figure for 2019 will also be a record high.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank on Saturday (May 4), she told reporters that arrivals from January to March clearly exceeded the 2.05 million who visited over the same period last year.
In March alone, she added, foreign arrivals were up by 11.1 per cent on last year.
She also said that having “a lot of direct flights” by carriers such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia had helped boost the figures.
“In fact, when we met with these airlines, they told us that they have more new routes to-and-from Japan and Australia,” she added.
Ms Puyat said the first-quarter figures showed that the country was “on track” to hit the Department of Tourism’s 8.2-million target for 2019.
“Last year, we were 7.1 million. We considered that an accomplishment — it was the first time we breached the 7-million mark,” she said.
So far this year, South Korea remains the top source of foreign tourists, followed by China, the US, Japan and Australia.
In particular, the rise in visitor numbers from China has been exponential over the past few years, rising from about one million in 2017 to at least 1,500,000 last year.
This continuing increase has already been observed this year at Boracay. As we have previously reported, nearly half of all visitors to the white-sand resort island are from Mainland China.
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