By Catherine S. Valente Reporter
Malacañang on Thursday announced that the number of tourists who visited the country from January to March 2013 reached a total of 1,271,579, for a 10.76- percent increase from last year’s 1,148,072.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that tourist arrivals also breached the 400,000 mark each month since January—a historic first for Philippine tourism.
“This is the first time in Philippine tourism that foreign visitor’s arrivals breach the 400,000 mark for three consecutive months within the same year, and four for consecutives months since December 2012,” Lacierda noted.
He also said that arrivals for March 2013 registered a double digit increase of 11.28 percent with 417,392 visitors compared to the previous years’ volume of 375,083.
“We are on target to reach the 5.5 million arrivals for 2013,” the Palace official stressed.
Lacierda commended Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. for the new all-time high achieved by the tourism industry.
“We would like to commend Secretary Mon Jimenez for his aggressive role in making the Philippines more fun to visit,” he said.
“Nakakatulong iyon sa ekonomiya. [It helps the economy]. One tourist arrival is equivalent to one job, according to data from the Department of Tourism,” he added.
As the tourism industry continues to grow, the government announced that it plans to spend P300 million for tourism infrastructure projects in Pangasinan alone—one of the provinces with a major tourist destination in Central Luzon.
Secretary Rogelio Singson of the Department of Public Works and Highways said that the multimillion budget will be allocated for the upgrading of roads leading to some tourist destinations in the province, most popular of which is the Hundred Islands.
Singson said that 628 kilometers road networks in Pangasinan and all these national roads were already paved.
However, he said that out of the 628, 11 percent or 71 kilometers is in bad condition.
“We focused on upgrading the quality and safety of our national road. We just want to recover our road right of way, so we are asking our district engineers to coordinate with the LGUs,” Singson said.
Some of the major projects in Pangasinan, Singson said, are the improvements on the Pangasinan-La Union inter-provincial road, Pangasinan-Zambales road, and the Pangasinan-Tarlac road.