The growth rate of international tourist arrivals in the country experienced a decline of 1.5 percent in 2008 from 8.7 percent the previous year due to the global financial crisis, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).
However, tourist arrivals in the country rose to a record 3.14 million last year, as compared to 3.09 million in 2007 and 2.84 million in 2006.
Tourism Secretary Ace Durano predicted a zero to 1.9 percent growth this year, saying that foreign visitor arrivals will be largely dependent on the recovery of key source markets. The estimate, he said, is consistent with the adjusted forecast by the United Nations' World Tourism Organization of -2 percent to zero percent growth for the Asia-Pacific Region.
Arrivals from Korea, United States, and Japan--which are 50 percent of the country's source markets--contracted year-on-year in 2008.
Only 611,629 Koreans entered the country last year, registering a 4.9 percent contraction. Arrivals from the United States and Japan, on the other hand, were down 0.4 percent to 578,246 and 7.4 percent to 359,306, respectively.
The decline, however, was offset by growth in tourist arrivals from Russia (34.3 percent), France (18.8 percent), Norway (15.8 percent), India (13.9 percent), and Spain (11 percent).
Other markets such as the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Canada, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Australia, Saudi Arabia, China, and Taiwan, also posted growth during the period.
Tourism accounts for 6.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). -- With Agence France-Presse