By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
International tourist arrivals reached over 6.8 million visitors as of October this year reflecting a 15 percent growth over same period last year, according to the Department of Tourism.
A monthly report released by the DOT showed the country recorded a total of 6,800,052 visitors from January to October 2019 equivalent to an impressive 15.04 percent increase from the 5,911,161 arrivals for the same period last year.
October visitor arrivals also revealed an affirmative year-on-year arrival growth for eight of the top ten source markets. For the first ten months, Korea still tops the list with a total of 1,609,172 arrivals (+21.75%), which is expected to further improve following the signing of the tourism cooperation program between the Philippines and Korea.
China came in second with 1,499,524 (+41.13%) followed by the United States of America (USA) at third place with 872,335 (+2.53%) for the ten-month period.
Japan remained fourth in the list with 569,625 (+7.43%), followed by Taiwan, with a record of 282,220 (+36.77%) completing the top five markets.
Puyat attributed the encouraging figures to the improved air connectivity, intensified marketing promotions including the refreshed “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign, budding relations with other countries, as well as the growing recognition of the country’s sustainable tourism advocacy.
For October, tourist arrivals via air comprised 98.77% for 630,666 visitors. Manila, through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, served as the main gateway welcoming 396,446 tourists.
Cebu, which was recently included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Network of Creative Cities, followed suit with 131,217 arrivals. Incidentally, its Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 earned the top prize in the Completed Buildings-Transport Category at the recently-concluded World Architecture Festival.
Air arrivals from Kalibo totaled 59,467, Clark with 35,236 while the rest of the airports yielded 8,300 arrivals.
On top of the growing tourist arrivals, the Philippines bagged back-to-back diving accolades at the World Travel Awards in Muscat, Oman. The country bested eight other global dive destinations namely Azores Islands, Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Galapagos Islands, Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Maldives, and Mexico, after copping the Asia’s Leading Dive Destination from the regional edition.
“The collective efforts and resolve of the whole tourism industry have paid off with the continued increase in our visitor arrivals and tourist receipts as well as recognitions from major international award giving bodies,” Puyat said.