MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Tourism (DOT) aims to bring in a total of 6.8 million foreign tourists this year.
Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez told the House appropriations committee chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab that a total of 2,433,428 foreign tourists visited the country during the first half of this year.
He said although the remaining balance of 4.4 million is huge, “we expect to catch up, because arrivals usually start to pick up beginning in September.”
He said September to December is peak season for tourists visiting the Philippines.
“The indications are good. I worry all the time (about attaining our target), but I think it’s going to be close,” he said.
Of the 5.5-million target last year, 4.7 million foreign tourists actually arrived, he said.
Jimenez also revealed that the number of Chinese visiting the country has increased compared to last year, despite the territorial dispute between Manila and Beijing.
“They have overtaken the Japanese during the first six months of this year. The Koreans are still on top, followed by the Americans,” he said.
The DOT recorded 226,163 Chinese tourist arrivals between January and June, compared to 220,366 Japanese tourists.
In 2013, Koreans accounted for 25 percent of the 4.7-million arrivals, followed by Americans, 14.4 percent; Japanese, 9.3 percent; and Chinese, 9.1 percent.
Last year’s foreign tourists were believed to have spent a total of P190 billion in the country.
As for local tourists, the DOT reported that there were 43.7 million Filipinos who traveled the country, spending P1.1 trillion.
The DOT will have a P2.2-billion budget for next year.