MANILA, Philippines - Nearly 4.7 million foreigners visited the Philippines in 2013, as the Department of Tourism continued to ramp up the "It's More Fun in the Philippines" campaign around the world.
The DOT on Thursday said foreign visitor arrivals jumped 9.56% to 4.68 million in 2013.
South Korea remained the biggest source of tourists, rising 13% to 1.16 million in 2013. South Koreans accounted for 25% of the country's visitor arrivals last year.
The number of tourists from the United States, which make up 15% of the total tourist arrivals, reached 652,626 in 2013, a 3.3% increase from the previous year.
Japan was the Philippines' third biggest source market with 412,474 arrivals in 2013, followed closely by China with 426,352 arrivals. The number of Chinese tourists surged 69% in 2013, despite tension between the Philippine and Chinese governments over disputed islands.
The DOT said the surge in Chinese visitors was first felt in May 2013 when arrivals posted a 107.7% growth, due to opening of new regular and chartered air services and increase in cruise itineraries.
“Our key source markets generally performed well during the month of December, proof that international confidence has been regained. The Philippines is profoundly grateful for the outpouring of support, aid, and goodwill from all over the world. They were all instrumental in our road to recovery," Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said in a statement.
Australia was the fifth biggest source market with 213,023 arrivals last year, followed by Singapore with 175,034 arrivals; Taiwan with 139,099 arrivals; Canada with 131,381 arrivals; Hong Kong with 126,008 arrivals; United Kingdom with 122,759 arrivals; Malaysia with 109,437 arrivals; and Germany with 70,949 arrivals.
Only two countries showed a decline in arrivals -- Taiwan and Malaysia. The number of Taiwan tourists to the Philippines fell 35% in 2013, as tensions between Taipei and Manila rose after a Taiwanese fisherman was shot dead by Filipino coastguards on May 9 in waters near Batanes.
The DOT said total revenues gained from inbound visitors went up 15% to an estimated $4.40 billion (or P186.15 billion) for 2013. The average length of stay of visitors remained at 9.6 nights, with visitors from the US having the longest stay at 13.4 nights.
Inbound tourists also increased their average daily expenditure by 8.7% to $101.12. Koreans spent the most at $140.81 per day.
The DOT noted based on per capita spending of the Philippines’ top markets, visitors from Canada recorded the biggest tourism spend at $1,393.68. It was followed by visitors from Australia with a per capita expenditure of $1,382.48. Other high-spending markets included Germany with $1,360.34; USA with $ 1,334.34; United Kingdom with $1,306.86; and Korea with $ 874.59.
Jimenez expects more foreign visitors to the Philippines this year as well.
"Our main cities will also play host to a great number of international conferences and events, which include the 5th World Ecotourism Conference in Cebu this February and WEF East Asia Summit in May. More importantly, this year exerts extra pressure on our government, industry, and civil society to prepare for Visit the Philippines Year (VPY) 2015, which will feature a calendar of events and an exciting mix of activities inviting all to come and partake of the more fun promise in the Philippines," he said.