MANILA, Philippines - Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez said the Philippines is on track to meet its goal of attracting 4.6 million tourists this year, as visitor arrivals grew by 16% in the first quarter.
"The first quarter figures are in and we are tracking 16% ahead of the same period last year. Our full-year target is 4.6 million and we are now at 1.15 million in the first quarter... We are a quarter of our target. We are well on our way to achieving our target," Jimenez told ANC on Thursday.
Total visitor arrivals in the country reached 3.917 million in 2011, breaking the previous record of 3.52 million in 2010.
The Philippines recently launched its ad campaign "It's More Fun in the Philippines" on CNN. The Department of Tourism (DOT) received criticisms for spending P63 million for these advertisement spots, which will be aired in key markets around the world.
Jimenez said the response to the ads have been mostly positive, except for the questions about the budget.
"Look anyone in the Philippine advertising industry knows that if you have P63 million to spend to buy what we finally got, which is 2,900 spots across Asia, Europe and the US, not equally distributed of course. But even then it comes to P19,000 per spot. I'm a little in a daze because I didn't want my competitors to find out how good a deal we got, but it's there," he said.
Jimenez disagreed with criticisms that the tourism slogan does not change anything.
"We finally have a proposition that comes alive in people's minds. Therefore it has persuasive power, it converts choice and second, it energizes the system. As is obvious, the first Filipinos convinced by this line was themselves," he said.
Aside from the ads, the DOT will also focus on product development and merchadising efforts in key markets, namely South Korea, US, China, Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany and Taiwan.
At the same time, Jimenez said the DOT is taking advantage of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) meetings being held in Manila to attract investments in the tourism industry.
"The opportunities for investing in tourism in the Philippines are wide open right now, on the back of renewed optimism and very real results on the ground in terms of tourist arrivals," he said.
The top priority is increasing capacity at the main gateways - Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Cebu and Davao international airports.
"If there was demand for greater capacity and upgradng for our airports before, it is about five times that now. We are really stretching capacity at our current key gateways," Jimenez added.