The Philippines sees a strong recovery for the tourism sector after recording PHP286 billion in tourism receipts from January to July 2023.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday said the tourism revenue is consistent with the over 66 percent tourism international arrivals recovery of the country being higher than the average ASEAN growth of 54 percent.
“Tourism receipts from foreign and domestic visitors for 2022 amounted to PHP1.87 trillion showing the momentum towards the phenomenal tourism performance in the first half of 2023,” it said.
Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said as of Aug. 10, the Philippines also received 3.37 million foreign visitors, accounting for 70 percent of the country’s 4.8 million target arrival for 2023.
“These numbers are only seen to grow further especially that the Philippines has now fully opened up to tourism. We’re very grateful to our President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. for prioritizing tourism in his national development agenda,” Frasco said.
In 2022, the DOT recorded over 5.35 million individuals employed in tourism-related industries, which is 93 percent of the industry’s employment figures during the pre-pandemic period of 2019.
At the latest leg of the Post-State of the Nation Address Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) Roadshow of the national government in Cebu, Frasco also provided an overview of the DOT’s strategies to sustain the tourism industry’s momentum.
For Central Visayas, Frasco said the DOT will further develop the country’s tourism portfolio, including English as Second Language (ESL), which is seen as a big come-on especially for non-English speaking markets.
Frasco also sees meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE), golf, as well as health and wellness as bright spots for tourism in the region.
As of June 30, combined international and domestic visitor arrivals in Central Visayas have reached 2.2 million.
Based on the DOT’s latest nationwide survey for 2023, Cebu also ranks No. 1 in terms of the most preferred destinations among overnight travelers.
Frasco announced the construction of more Tourist Rest Areas (TRAs), in addition to the ones being built in Dauis, Bohol, and in the towns of Carcar, Carmen, and Moalboal.
Setting up TRAs will jibe with the efforts to organize heritage, culture, and art caravans to offer visitors a wide array of cultural sites and destinations across the region.
“We also see that Cebu being a cradle of Christianity and Central Visayas being host to a huge number of heritage and historical sites, the national government support for the restoration and rehabilitation of these sites is absolutely necessary,” Frasco said.
Frasco also signified the DOT’s strong intent to develop the region as a cruise tourism hub.
This year, four cruise ships are expected to make a port of call in various islands in Central Visayas “with much room to grow.”
In keeping with its commitment to sustainable tourism development, projects are in the pipeline for the country’s key and emerging destinations in Bohol, Siquijor, and Siargao Islands.
“We anticipate that with the policies supporting tourism under the Marcos administration, the convergences that we have had under our President’s whole-of-nation approach towards tourism development, and most importantly, our private sector’s partnership, collaboration, continued investment, and belief in the strength of the tourism industry, will allow us to adopt and occupy a more primary position in Asia and recover sooner than what is predicted,” Frasco said.
“Cebu, Central Visayas, and the rest of the Philippines will exceed all expectations because there are just so many reasons to love the Philippines,” she added.
Referring to Central Visayas as a “treasure trove of dive destinations”, the Tourism secretary also pointed out the need to further support diving in the region and announced the DOT’s upcoming Tourism Dive Dialogue in September in Cebu.
The DOT through its infrastructure arm, the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), also eyes the installation of hyperbaric chambers in key dive sites, including in Dumaguete, and in Daanbantayan in Cebu in 2024. (PNA)