DOT admits, downplays cancellations of tourists amid Mindanao martial law

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THE government admitted on Wednesday there have been cancellations of foreign tourist arrivals in the Philippines since the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

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No estimated figures were given, but Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon 2nd said they “were very small compared to the actual arrivals.”

“Yes, there were cancellations,” he said. “We do not have any estimate yet, but when we looked at the volume of cancellations versus the volume of tourists (who) pushed through with their trips to the Philippines, the cancellations were very small compared to the actual arrivals,” Bengzon said.

“We continue to gather data from the stakeholders like hotels, resorts and even the airlines,” he added.

The tourism official underscored the need to put things into perspective. According to him, it is vital for the government to be very precise when analyzing the potential impact of developing events on the economic environment.

Meanwhile, foreign visitors from January to March 2017 hit 1.78 million, or an increase of 11.4 percent over the same period last year.

“The 11.4-percent growth rate is much higher than the Asian average which we estimate at around 7 percent,” Bengzon noted, adding that this is even “higher than the global average which we projected at the single range of 4.5 percent.”

All figures indicate that Philippine tourism continues to grow above the curve strongly indicating that country remains an attractive destination for the global travellers.

South Korea remains to be the number one market for Philippine tourism, accounting for 25 percent of arrivals, followed by US with 40.5 percent, China 13.5 percent, Japan 9.3 percent and Australia 3.3 percent.

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