The Department of Tourism (DOT) is inching toward its target of acquiring 5.2-million tourist arrivals by yearend after it welcomed its five-millionth visitor on Monday.
Tourism Assistant Secretary Alan Canizal told reporters that the next welcome rites would be done when the Philippines hits its six-millionth visitor next year. The DOT earlier said that it is eyeing 10-million visitors by the end of 2016.
Canizal expressed confidence that the tourist arrival target for this year would be met with the country already acquiring around 4.39-million visitors from January to October 2015.
This figure, the department said, is higher by 11.13 percent than the 3.95 million visitors recorded in the same period in 2014.
The DOT said that Korea was still the top foreign market with 1,099,192 visitors, a 14.70 percent growth compared to 958,289 tourists acquired for the same months in 2014.
The United States came in second, with 636,658 visitors, a 7.51 percent increase versus the 592,204 arrivals for the same period last year.
The third top market was Japan with 417,147 visitors, a 9.02 percent growth from the 382,633 acquired in the same period in 2014.
A rundown of the top 10 visitor markets includes China (415,868 visitors); Australia (188,971 visitors); Singapore (150,405 visitors); Taiwan (150,531 visitors); Malaysia (129,120 visitors); United Kingdom (123,414 visitors), and Canada (120,903 visitors).
Canizal also revealed that he was looking forward to Japanese visitors hitting the 500,000-mark between 2016 and 2017.
“By 2016, we might cross the 500,000 (Japanese) visitors. If we get a lot of Japanese tourists by December, we can meet this target,” he pointed out.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. earlier said that the upcoming state visit of Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko was also expected to boost tourism numbers coming from Japanese tourists.
“The Majesties last visited the Philippines in 1962 when they were then Crown Prince and Princess. This is the first time they will visit the country as Emperor and Empress,” Jimenez said.