DOT downscales foreign arrival target to 5.5M in 2015

By Ted P. Torres, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 11 2015 08:07 AM | Updated as of Mar 11 2015 04:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Tourism (DOT) has downscaled its foreign arrivals target this year from the original six million to the “more practical” 5-5.5 million.

In 2014, the number of inbound visitors reached 4,833,368 or 3.25 percent higher than the 4,681, 307 arrivals in 2013. However, it fell short of the target of five million.

Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. revealed one of the challenges that impacted on the full-year target was the negative travel advisories by a number of countries.

“We could have done better but there were some challenges particularly in terms of the advisories issued by some countries,” Bengzon said during the formal launching of Island Philippines Fun Caravan, an aggressive tourism campaign spearheaded by the Philippines Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) and the DOT.

Bengzon said on a positive note, visitors were extending their stay and spending more in the past two to three years.

“Foreign tourists continue to stay longer, and they continue to spend more,” he pointed out.

Total earnings last year from inbound tourism amounted to $4.84 billion, higher by 10 percent against the previous year’s earnings of $4.4 billion. In peso value, inbound revenues totaled P214.88 billion, higher by 15 percent compared to P186.15 billion in 2013.

The month of December also recorded the highest visitor receipts at $597.76 million.

Last year, average daily expenditure (ADE) of international visitors during the year was recorded at $103.55, which is 2.4-percent higher compared to the previous year ADE of $ 101.12.

In peso terms, ADE grew 7.11 percent from P4,292.16 in 2013 to P4,597.12 last year. Again, December pegged the highest at $96.36 (P4,306.12).

Visitors from the Asian region remained the biggest market for the Philippines during the year with 2.83 million visitors or 59 percent of total arrivals. Americas followed with 875,200 for a market share of 18 percent; Europe at 10 percent, Australasia/Pacific (six percent) and overseas Filipinos (four percent).

Tourism officials said that it was significant in lieu of the Asean regional integration, which is making it cheaper to travel in the 10-nation region.

In fact, PHILTOA president Cesar Cruz said they have been holding talks with their counterparts in exchange promotional tours.

“We were in Myanmar recently to promote the Fun Caravan,” Cruz said in the same press briefing.

The Fun Caravan is a year-round activity that will take domestic and foreign tourists in several destinations all over the Philippines.

For this year, it focuses on five major destinations: the Cordillera region, the Southern Tagalog region, the Visayan region, the Bicol region, and Central Luzon. The caravans or tours will run between four to six days.

There will also be minor destinations focused on Palawan, Batanes, the Calamianes Group of Islands and Zamboanga.

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