Tourist arrivals up 3 pct in 5 months

By Donnabelle L. Gatdula, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 27 2014 10:05 AM | Updated as of Jun 27 2014 06:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign tourist arrivals from January to May this year increased three percent to more than two million, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

DOT Undersecretary Daniel Corpuz said Korea remained the biggest market as it cornered a huge chunk of arrivals.

The release of the foreign arrival data was delayed by about three weeks after the Bureau of Immigration came up with a new set of rules on the issuance of immigration cards.

As part of efforts to facilitate faster immigration processes at Philippine airports, the government last March ruled that all arriving Filipinos no longer have to fill out the new immigration arrival cards.

Foreigners, including Philippine passport holders with existing immigrant status, on the other hand, will be required to fill out the new arrival cards.

Corpuz said the BI would be coming up with revised rules which will define the “immigrant status” so as to properly account Filipinos who are Philippine passport holders but have not been living in the country for a long period of time.

“The Bureau of Immigration would require Filipino resident aliens residing outside the country for a long time to fill out the disembarkation card,” he said.

He said they have coordinated with the BI for the smooth implementation of the more defined rules.

“BI may issue a circular addressed to all consulates around the world. The changes may also be announced by airlines onboard the planes and put up some posters at the immigration entries,” he said.

The DOT has been keeping track of the Filipino passport holders as they form part of the foreign arrival computation.

For the month of February, DOT data showed that Philippine passport holders permanently residing abroad (excluding overseas Filipino workers) reported 27,203 arrivals, 3.43 percent less than its total last year.

Corpuz said the DOT is also conducting international tourism missions/ roadshows to meet the 5.3 million to 5.5 million foreign tourists arrivals target for 2014.

As this developed, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released P554.4 million to the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) for the implementation of its marketing and promotional activities in line with the Aquino administration’s efforts at elevating the Philippines as one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

DBM said the funding would support the efforts of the TPB to highlight the country’s products, landmark destinations and services, with the end goal of increasing tourism arrivals and investments to 10 million tourists by 2016.

“We’re already seeing more foreign tourists flocking to the country, and the local tourism industry is now at its most vibrant. This latest release supports our efforts to bring more visitors into the country. While broadening the government’s tourism campaign will certainly be a major component in our marketing efforts, the fact that the country has so many to offer to both our domestic and foreign tourists is a definite advantage,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.

“Further improving our growing tourism industry will help create more business opportunities and generate more jobs in tourism-oriented communities. This will in turn complement our other efforts in pursuing our bigger goals of economic expansion and inclusive growth,” he added.

Part of the TPB’s promotional activities include organizing the country’s participation in trade and consumer fairs and other related exhibitions and events. They also conduct invitational and familiarization programs for wholesalers, retailers, members of the media, and other influential groups and individuals to promote awareness and create a demand for the Philippine tourist destinations.

The TPB also rolls out various multimedia campaigns to attract more international visitors and local tourists.