MANILA - The government is sticking to its foreign tourist arrival target of over six million this year despite missing the five-million goal in 2013,Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. told The STAR.
“We are not going to change our target of six million for 2014. We have more reasons not to not meet this target,” he said.
He said they expect the NAIA Terminal 3 to fully operate this year, and lead to another upgrade from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Jimenez said they anticipate more flights coming in from Japan, Korea, US, and Europe which will further boost the tourism industry.
He said they also expect more Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines this year. “We see China continuing to post double-digit growth in arrivals,” he said.
Jimenez confirmed that international tourist arrivals for 2013 fell short by 300,000, registering only 4.7 million as against the target of five million.
But the tourism chief pointed out that the 2013 level arrivals figure was still nine percent above the 2012 level.
“We were really very optimistic after the first half (Jan.-June 2013) but there came the natural calamities. The pre-booking became pre-cancellation. And we can’t do anything about them,” he pointed out.
He also stressed that the country was able to establish a new trend in the tourism industry.
“We now have a new normal of posting more than 400,000 arrivals every month,” he said.
He said for the month of December 2013 alone, the DOT recorded over 450,000 foreign visitors.
The industry surpassed the four-million international tourist arrival mark for the first time with 4.3 million visitors in 2012, 21.4 percent higher than the 3.5 million visitors in 2011.
The DOT had targeted five million international tourist arrivals in 2013 and 10 million in 2016.