PH far too beautiful to ignore, says UN


REGARDLESS of the self-persecution complex that Filipinos have toward their government officials—which could be mistaken for instability—the Philippines remains a favorite destination among foreign tourists owing to its beautiful resources, especially the warm people.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) listed the Philippines as the fourth among top destinations foreign tourists have spent money on in 2013. Leading the list were Thailand (with 27.5 percent of total tourist spending), Japan (24.6 percent) and Hong Kong (20.6 percent). The Philippines had 19.6 percent, said the UNWTO 2013 Tourism Barometer.

Other countries in the top 10 were Russia (15.3 percent), Greece (14.8 percent), the United Kingdom (14.7 percent), Turkey (12 percent), India (12 percent) and Taiwan (12 percent).

The fact that Asian countries comprised four of five of the top performers in tourism receipts can be attributed to the increase in tourist arrivals in the region.

Tourism arrival growth was strongest in the Asia-Pacific and Africa, which both saw the number of international visitors increase by 6 percent last year.

This is higher than the global average growth of 5 percent. The two regions also bested Europe (5 percent) and the Americas (4 percent).

“[The year] 2013 was an excellent year for international tourism,” UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said, highlighting the tourism sector’s adaptability.

Increase in arrivals seen
The UNWTO expects international tourist arrivals to increase by 4 percent to 5 percent in 2014, higher than its long-term forecast of 3.8 percent for 2010-2020. If foreigners spent more in the top four Asian countries on the UNWTO list, still the agency noted that Filipinos were also among the fastest-growing travel spenders in the world in 2013.

Philippine outbound expenditures, which measures how much Filipinos spend while in transit, grew by 18 percent in 2013.

The Philippines was tied with Qatar. Turkey was at 24 percent, while Kuwait, Indonesia and Ukraine all posted growth rates of 15 percent. Overall, international tourism grew ahead of expectations in 2013, with tourist arrivals around the world growing 5 percent or 52 million more arrivals from 2012.

This year, the UNWTO has a modest growth projection of 4 percent to 5 percent.

In a related development, earlier reports said the Philippines was awarded as the “Best Tropical Island Destination” by the Chinese daily Shanghai Morning Post, following a consumer survey conducted by the news daily and Shanghai, one of the biggest media platforms in China.

Officials of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Tourism (DOT) received the award on January 7, during the Shanghai Morning Post Tourism Awards 2013 in Shanghai, China.

The DFA said the award affirms the Philippines’ reputation as an exciting and fun destination for the ever-growing Chinese outbound travelers. Other winning foreign destinations were Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

It was not the first time that the Philippines was cited in China for its tourism program. In 2013, the Shanghai Morning Post named the country the “Most Romantic Destination,” and in 2012 another leading Chinese daily, Oriental Morning Post, awarded it as “Best Tourist Destination.” Global recognition has been given to Philippine attractions—white-sand beaches, rich flora and fauna, shopping centers, dive sites, lush forests, heritage sites, historical and cultural spots—and improved facilities and infrastructure that make the country a popular destination for foreign tourists.

The reports added that based on DOT’s Visitor Arrival Report, Chinese arrivals in the Philippines in 2013 reached 365,905 as of October, a growth of 70 percent from the same period in 2012. The growth in Chinese tourist arrivals may be attributed to the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign as well as the cooperation with key Chinese travel trade and media partners.

There are now direct flights from various cities in China to Philippine destinations such as Boracay, Clark, Laoag and Cebu.

Chartered flights to Legazpi City as well as Puerto Princesa and Bohol will be opened soon, the report said.


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