Tourist arrivals reach 2.8 M in Jan-July

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign tourist arrivals in the first seven months of the year reached 2.8 million, 11 percent higher than a year earlier, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said on the sidelines of the First Philippine Tourism Forum yesterday.

The tourism chief said international tourists who visited the country last July alone reached a record 418,000 from 377,000 a year ago.

The seven-month foreign arrival figure, he said, gives them greater optimism they would meet or even surpass their 5.5 million tourist arrival target this year.

“Yes, we’re on track. We are already over 2.8 million for January to July which means we are now growing at 11 percent,” he said. “It may also be the first time in history that we will be able to hit the five million tourist arrival mark.”

He said the ASEAN economic integration in 2015 would provide a boost to Philippine tourism industry.

Jimenez said they expect the ASEAN initiative to increase tourist arrivals in the Philippines by five percent.

By 2015, the Department of Tourism (DOT) expects international tourist arrivals to reach eight million.

Jimenez said with the consolidation of the ASEAN economies in two years’ time, the Philippines would seek to contribute by offering its training services.

“To begin with, we are one of training grounds in the region,” he said.

The Philippines, he added, is also one of the countries pushing for greater openness in terms of visa regulation.

The Philippines still lag behind its neighboring countries in terms of international arrivals with 4.3 million in 2012 as against Malaysia (25 million), Thailand (22 million) and Vietnam (6.8 million).