Country still behind in tourism terms

June 27, 2012 at 20:12

TOURISM is on an uptrend but the Philippines is at the bottom half of a listing of Asia-Pacific economies based on annual tourist arrivals, data released by the government showed.

The Philippines is only the 14th most visited out of nearly two dozen Asia-Pacific territories for the 2008-2010, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said, before the Aquino administration’s launch of the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign.

Vietnam, which ranked 13th, overtook the Philippines in tourist arrivals, while Malaysia has been the perennial top destination in Southeast Asia, the NSCB noted.

A total of 3.52 million tourists arrived in the country in 2010, up from the 3.017 million recorded the year before. This accounted for just 1.8% of the combined 196.8 billion international tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific.

“For every 10 tourists who visited the Philippines from 2008 to 2010, 15 tourists went to Vietnam, 20 tourists went to Indonesia, 26 tourists went to Singapore, 44 tourists went to Thailand, and 140 tourists went to Malaysia,” the NSCB said.

The top destination was China, recording 55.7 million tourist arrivals in 2010, followed by Malaysia (24.6 million), Hong Kong (20.1 million), Thailand (15.8 million), and Macau (11.9 million). The Philippines, however, was ahead of New Zealand, which drew 2.5 million tourists.

The NSCB noted that growth in local tourist arrivals had been stymied by political upheavals. “Philippine tourism was flourishing in the ’70s but started declining in the early ’80s with the unstable political condition of the country then. With a new government in 1986, tourism regained momentum in the early ’90s but began slipping back during the coup attempts between 1989 and 1991. After the coups, tourism was generally on an upward trend except during the global financial crisis in 1997,” NSCB said.

“Visitor arrivals in the Philippines crossed the one-million mark in 1980 which was duplicated only after eight years. It took another eight years before it reached the two-million mark in 1996 and 11 years to achieve the three-million mark,” it added.


Sought for comment, Benito C. Bengzon, Jr., assistant secretary for tourism planning and promotions at the Department of Tourism, said geography was a problem for the Philippines.

“We are not too far behind. The advantage of other Southeast Asian countries, like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, is they have cross-border or land travel. That is why our number of arrivals is not as high,” he explained.

But there is a positive side, Mr. Bengzon said.

“Because almost all of our arrivals are by air, the advantage of the Philippines is tourists tend to stay longer. They also spend more, compared to what is experienced in the other countries.”

The NSCB said visitors mostly spent for accommodation, food, guided tours, entertainment and recreation, local transport, and shopping. Overall, foreign and overseas Filipino visitors spent an average $89.7 per day, including $30.10 for accommodation, $20.10 for food and beverages, and $18.50 for shopping.

Foreign visitors stayed for an average of nine nights, while visiting overseas Filipinos stayed 19 nights.

Mr. Bengzon noted that Philippine tourism had experienced significant growth due to the liberalization of air travel. He pointed to increased flight frequencies and the expansion of seat capacity and flights of low-cost carriers, not only in Metro Manila but also in secondary destinations.

“Our capacity to accommodate our visitors has also expanded, in terms of hotels and resorts sprouting outside our main gateways, like Bohol, Boracay, Palawan, Davao,” he added.


NSCB data showed that in 2010, the most foreign tourists went to Metro Manila at 1.5 million, followed by Cebu (712,400), Camarines Sur (461,053), Boracay (305,569), and Bohol (102,930).

“[The good] news is that growth of foreign visitor arrivals in Boracay and Palawan in 2010 was higher than in Bali, Indonesia. Bad news is that, Boracay and Palawan received only 10.9% and 5.0%, respectively, of the foreign visitors received by Bali. The decelerated growth of visitor arrivals in Bali for 2005 and 2006 may be attributed to the 2005 Bali bombings as well as several travel warnings against non-essential trips to Indonesia,” the NSCB said.

Camarines Sur, whose beach and watersports facilities drew 2.33 million foreign and domestic tourists in 2010, has overtaken Metro Manila and Cebu as the top tourist destination in the country, the NSCB said.

“With the Puerto Princesa Underground River making it to the New 7 Wonders of Nature, we wouldn’t be surprised if Puerto Princesa will jump significantly in the rankings for 2012,” it said.


Source: BusinessWorld, June 8, 2012
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