MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Tourism is hoping to welcome the one millionth Korean tourist to the Philippines before Christmas.
Tourism Undersecretary Daniel Corpuz said this will be a milestone for the Philippines since South Korea will be the first foreign tourism market to hit 1 million arrivals in a year.
"We will invite the one millionth Korean before Christmas to visit the Philippines... This is a significant milestone because this will be first foreign market to generate 1 million tourist arrivals for our country," he said at the 3rd Philippines-Korea Partnership Forum in Makati City on Tuesday.
South Koreans remain the largest source of inbound tourists for the Philippines. In 2011, there were 925,000 Korean tourists to the Philippines. In the first half of 2012 alone, 474,685 Koreans visited the country, 10.5% higher compared to the previous year.
According to the DOT, majority of the Korean tourists to the Philippines were male, with an average age of 34.9 years old. Around 40% are managers, supervisors and administrative personnel, while the rest are housewives, students and businessmen.
Corpuz said the average Korean tourist stays 6 days in the Philippines and spends an average of $126 (around P5,100) a day, much higher than the average foreign tourist expenditure of $92.
Most of the Korean tourists visit the Philippines for a holiday, while some come for business, studies or to make friends.
What Koreans like about PH
"We asked them what they like the most and they say it's the Filipino people who are very warm and friendly. Second, they say it's the scenery and environment," Corpuz said.
However, Korean tourists do not like the traffic jams and pollution. "I believe these two comments are centered in urban capitals because these are generally not present in our provinces," he said.
For his part, South Korean Ambassador to Manila Hyuk Lee expressed confidence there will be more than a million Korean tourists to the Philippines by the end of 2012.
"The growing number of airline linkages between the Philippines and Korea is a strong indication of our active tourism. We have 169 flights in operation on a weekly basis. The fondness of Koreans for the Philippines and warm hospitality of Filipinos proves 'it is more fun in the Philippines'," Lee said.
The DOT is hoping to keep attracting Korean tourists to the Philippines. Corpuz said they are targeting close to 2 million Korean tourists by 2016.
"By 2016, we expect 2 million friends in Korea to visit us here," he said.