TOURISM receipts in the first seven months of the year rose 15.3 percent to P126.35 billion ($2.8 billion) from P109.6 billion ($2.4 billion) in the same period last year as foreign tourist arrivals rose by about 2 percent, according to the Department of Tourism.
“We have seen very strong growth from all other markets including the U.S. In fact, even our income is up by 15 percent — double-digits — so hopefully we stay that way. It is also an implication that the European, American, and Japanese markets are back,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. told reporters.
In 2013, the country’s tourism revenue was about $4.7 billion.
The DOT said foreign tourist arrivals from January to July this year reached 2.86 million, higher by 2 percent from last year’s 2.79 million.
The East Asian region maintained its position as the largest contributor of arrivals with 1.34 million visitors by region, accounting for 47 percent of the overall traffic base.
The DOT chief noted an increase in the number of Russian tourists. “The Russians know how to spend. The Russians are like the typical middle income traveler. They have a budget so when they go on vacation, they spend before they go home. That’s model tourists”.
Based on DOT data, on average, visitors spent about P4,166 daily in July 2014, while the average length of stay was 9.6 nights, longer by 1.4 nights, or an increase of 16.4 percent compared to the average length of stay of 8.3 nights in July 2013.
From January to July 2014, the top 10 visitor markets in terms of spending were South Korea, with the largest share of P33.9 billion, the United States with P25.6 billion, Australia with P8.3 billion, Japan with P6.3 billion, China with P5.5 billion, Canada with P5.0 billion, the United Kingdom with P4.9 billion, Germany with P2.8 billion, Singapore with P2.4 billion, and Malaysia with P2.1 billion.
“All markets are up, except, as you may have heard, China. We have some hiccup when it comes to China,” Jimenez said.
On September 12, China issued a travel advisory against the Philippines after a Chinese teenager was kidnapped in Zamboanga Sibugay.
Jimenez said that the impact of China’s travel advisory on tourist arrivals and spending has not yet been counted.
“Remember, it’s not a travel ban, it’s just an advisory, so that can be lifted anytime,” he said.
He said that there had been some cancellations but not enough to cause great concern because of increasing charters from Taiwan and Korea.
“Every time the Koreans take their vacation, nandiyan na agad yung mga taga Japan [the Japanese are also there]. I’ll give you an example, given that capacity in Boracay: every time somebody cancels may kukuha ng [someone will take the]reservation and that’s more or less how we’re managing it. I’m not saying there’s no impact, but I don’t think it’s as serious as people initially thought it would be,” Jimenez said.
The DOT continues to be in serious talks with China through the Department of Foreign Affairs to reassure them that their citizens are safe, Jimenez said.
Meanwhile, the DOT is gearing up for Visit Philippines Year 2015. Tourism-linked events have doubled, with 35 activities lined up including Pope Francis’ visit in January.
The DOT also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with MTV Asia for the biggest concert in Asia.