By Betheena Unite
More than 4.1-million international tourists visited the country during the first half of 2019, exceeding last year’s foreign arrivals, the Department of Tourism said Monday.
A total of 4,133,050 international tourists visited the Philippines from January to June 2019, marking an 11.43 percent increase from last year’s figures.
“We have already breached the four-million mark within the first six months of the year. Seven years ago, it took the entire year to reach four million tourists,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
Puyat attributed the increased tourist arrivals to better and increased connectivity, noting that “new, rehabilitated and expanded airports have contributed much to this growth.”
Data from the agency showed that for the month of June 2019, tourist arrivals reached a growth rate of 21.41 percent or 643,780 arrivals versus the 530,267 arrivals in June 2018.
South Koreans are still the top visitors followed by the Chinese. Visitors from the United States rank third, followed by Japan and Taiwan.
“By expanding our portfolio of tourism products and by developing and promoting our lesser-known but emerging destinations, we have attracted a large yet diverse set of foreign travelers and have sustained our growth in the highly-competitive South East Asian region,” the secretary said.
The department also welcomed the US Homeland Security’s decision to lift its public notice on travel to Ninoy Aquino International Airport following the “significant improvements” in the airports security operations.
“With the recent development of the US Department of Homeland Security to rescind its public advisory on security issues at NAIA, we can expect more travelers from the US to visit the Philippines in the coming months,” Puyat said.