An ‘all-time high’ in tourism arrivals

THOSE who may have been worried that the closure of Boracay to tourists in April would  affect Philippne tourism should be reassured by the report  of the Department of Tourism (DOT) that tourist arrivals in the first half of this year have reached  an “all-time high.”

From January to  June, tourist visitors numbered  3,706,721, 10.4 percent more than the  3.357 million  for the same period last year. The biggest  numbers  of foreign visitors were  Koreans, 815,683; followed by mainland Chinese, 645,089; Americans, 557,833; Japanese, 316,060; Australians, 140,260;  Canadians, 121,098; Taiwanese, 120,540; British, 102,443; Singaporeans, 91,736; Malaysians, 73,663;  HongKongites, 69,995; and Indians, 63,089.

For this entire year, the DOT has a goal of 7.4 million tourists. This means it expects  some 3.79 million more visitors in the next six months. Considering the many holidays  between now and December, which normally  bring  in hundreds of thousands of balikbayans from the US, this goal  should be well within reach. And  with Boracay  reopening in October, many foreign tourists who may have put off their visit to this  famous  tourist spot may just come in these remaining months of the year.

It is important to note that we did not hesitate to close down Boracay when we did, despite the expected losses in revenue, for it showed to the world  that  we value its natural  resources and pristine beauty more than the economic benefits it was bringing to the country.  Its closure has also been cited as  a sign of President Duterte’s decisiveness in a situation which previous officials had allowed to fester. With its temporary closing, many visitors have discovered hundreds of other islands and beaches and waters all over  our country

Last year, Boracay drew over a million of the total  6.6 million visitors who came in 2017. When it reopens in October, we are confident that many who have been  there before will want  to see it once again,  along with many others  who  surely appreciate our readiness to close it down to stop the deterioration of its resources.

Secretary Roy Cimatu  of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has done a commendable job of cleaning up Boracay and  accomplishing  it within the six months given him. And Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat of the Department of Tourism has done very well in carrying on the country’s tourism program  even without  Boracay.

We look forward to our tourism program in  the next six months of this year,  a bright spot  amid so many problems facing our country today.