June 19, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

PH tourism records over 5 million international visitors in 2023

THE year 2023 is a win for the Philippine tourism industry as it welcomed more than five million international visitor arrivals from January 1 to December 31, 2023, recording more than PHP480 billion in international tourism receipts, according to Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco.

According to the monitoring data of the DOT, a total of 5,450,557 international visitors entered the country from January 1 to December 31, 2023, of which 91.80 percent or the bulk of international arrivals recorded at 5,003,475 are foreigners. The remaining 8.20 percent or 447,082 are overseas Filipinos.

The new record is around 650,000 higher than its target of 4.8 million international visitors projected to visit the country for the entire year. 

South Korea retains its top spot as the country’s main source of international visitors, getting 26.41 percent of the pie which delivered 1,439,336 foreign tourists. It was followed by the United States with 903,299 tourists (16.57 percent) visiting the country; then Japan with 305,580 (5.61 percent); Australia with 266,551 (4.89 percent); and China with 263,836 (4.84 percent). 

Other foreigners who visited the country from other top source markets after China were from Canada, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Malaysia. 

Surge in International Tourism Receipts

The tourism chief likewise emphasized that the country’s local tourism industry is recovering faster than expected. 

The country’s international tourism receipts have surged at an estimate of PHP482.54 billion from January 1 to December 31, 2023. This is higher by 124.87 percent compared with the PHP214.58 billion estimated visitor receipts from the same period last year. In 2019 or pre-pandemic period, the DOT recorded PHP482.15 billion in international tourism receipts.

The Philippines has also reached an estimated 66 percent recovery rate for its all-time high international visitor arrivals achieved in 2019.

By 2024, the DOT is targeting a baseline target of 7.7 million international visitor arrivals.

“My deepest appreciation goes to every tourism stakeholder, collaborative partner, and passionate contributor who propelled our shared aspirations forward. Under President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s guiding vision and leadership, tourism has become a pivotal force driving our nation’s economic resurgence,” said Secretary Frasco,

“These numbers speak very well of the performance of the tourism industry under the Marcos Administration. Since we took office, we have set our goals for the industry not only in terms of international visitor arrivals but most importantly, the number of Filipinos, including their families, who will benefit from the opportunities generated by our constant and continuous efforts to make the industry prosper more than what we have aimed for. We assure the President, including our partners from the public and private sectors, that we will continue to realize the vision of this administration to make tourism a catalyst for economic growth and resurgence,” she added.

Realization of NTDP goals 

In May 2023, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. approved the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023 to 2028, the administration’s blueprint and development framework for the tourism industry, officials said Tuesday.

It contains the DOT’s seven strategic goals formulated under the helm of Secretary Frasco, which is the improvement of tourism infrastructure and accessibility; cohesive and comprehensive digitalization and connectivity; enhancement of overall tourist experience; equalization of tourism product development and promotion; diversification of the tourism portfolio through multidimensional tourism; maximization of domestic and international tourism; and strengthening tourism governance through close collaborations with national and local government units and stakeholders.

Flagship Projects and Programs of the DOT in 2023

On the directive of Secretary Frasco, the DOT embarked on an aggressive campaign to realize the Marcos Administration’s vision of making the Philippines a tourism powerhouse in Asia. 

Among others, the DOT successfully turned over 10 Tourist Rest Areas (TRAs) in strategic locations nationwide, with 18 more to be built this 2024. A flagship program of the Marcos Administration, the TRAs are equipped with facilities such as work and charging stations, information, and pasalubong centers, and clean restrooms and showers, a lounge area, and a breastfeeding room.

In less than two years of office, the DOT was able to complete 158 kilometers of roads leading to tourism destinations across the country in a bid to increase connectivity in tourist destinations through its Tourism Road Infrastructure Program (TRIP) in collaboration with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). 

To further provide convenience to tourists in terms of mobility while discovering destinations around the Philippine capital, two Hop-On Hop-Off (HOHO) Travel by The Hubs were also inaugurated in the cities of Manila and Makati. Four additional hubs are also planned to be launched with six local LGUs in Metro Manila as partners. 

The DOT is also expanding the country’s cruise tourism portfolio by receiving a total of 125 cruise calls in 2023.

The DOT also launched the country’s first Tourist Assistance Call Center, a centralized multi-platform assistance center that serves as a hotline and one-stop shop for local and foreign tourists. Since its launching in October, a total of 2,497 transactions have been made as of December 31, 2023.   

An aggregate of 33,435 app downloads have also been recorded since the launching of the integrated Travel Philippines App, a project of the DOT and its marketing arm, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines.

Meanwhile, 21,195 tourism-related jobs were also offered at the Trabaho, Turismo, Asenso Job Fairs–Trabaho Turismo Asenso Philippine Tourism Job Fairs, a collaborative effort by the DOT and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

With the Philippines being known as one of the most hospitable countries in the world, 126,343 tourism workers were trained for the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence (FBSE) as of December 31, 2023, surpassing the initial 100,000 set by no less than the tourism chief. 

Initiated by the DOT, the FBSE training program is rooted in the 7M’s of core values that Filipinos are widely known for: Malikhain, Makatao, Makakalikasan, Makabansa, Masayahin, May Bayanihan, and May Pag-asa, and designed to promote service excellence in all tourism-related establishments.

Generating more sales leads

Abundant tourism revenue from international and local business-to-business and promotional events also concluded in 2023 for the Philippine tourism industry. 

An estimated PHP6.317 billion total sales leads have been delivered through the DOT’s attached agency, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, which has been actively carrying out marketing and promotions, mounting  of international and domestic travel fairs, and participating in major expos locally and abroad. 

“Looking ahead to 2024, our commitment to the transformation of Philippine tourism is unwavering. Guided by our National Tourism Development Plan 2023-2028, we are poised for a thriving tourism landscape, evident in surpassing our targets in international and domestic arrivals and receipts, fostering economic prosperity and further job creation for our people,” said Secretary Frasco.

The New Philippines

Reintroducing The Philippines into the global tourism arena, the country, represented by Secretary Frasco, has been elected Vice President of the 25th General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a prestigious global position last held by the country more than two decades ago.  Likewise, The  Philippines, with Secretary Frasco’s representation, was also elected as Chair of the Commission for East Asia and the Pacific allowing the country to host the Joint Regional Meetings of the Committee for East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia in Cebu in 2024.

Consistent top-of-mind destination

The past year for the tourism industry may have been a mix of challenges and successes, but as recognized by preeminent award-giving bodies and publications, the Philippines remains a top-of-mind destination among travelers.

This was signified by the six major accolades from the World Travel Awards (WTA) received by the country as 2023 World’s Leading Dive Destination, World’s Leading Beach Destination, the World’s Leading City Destination for Manila as well as Asia’s Best Cruise Destination, and Asia’s Leading Dive Destination. For the first time, the Philippines also earned the spotlight on its inaugural win for the Global Tourism Resilience Award for demonstrating “global leadership, pioneering vision, and innovation to overcome critical challenges and adversity.”

The Philippines, during the previous year, also garnered more than 15 travel and tourism honors from prestigious award-giving bodies in the categories including diving, beach, cruise, culinary, retirement, and Muslim-friendly tourism, “a testament that the Philippines is indeed an emerging tourism powerhouse.” according to Secretary Frasco.

“The extraordinary journey of Philippine tourism in 2023 saw the world express its LOVE for the Philippines with our country’s rise to global prominence as the World’s Leading Beach and Dive Destination, and Asia’s Best Cruise Destination, among many other accolades. The indomitable spirit of the Filipino has been globally acclaimed with the Philippines receiving the Global Tourism Resilience Award with our country seen as a benchmark for innovation amidst trials and challenges,” enthused the tourism chief.

“Looking ahead to 2024, our commitment to the transformation of Philippine tourism is unwavering. Guided by our National Tourism Development Plan 2023-2028, we are poised for a thriving tourism landscape, evident in surpassing our targets in international and domestic arrivals and receipts, fostering economic prosperity and further job creation for our people,” Frasco added.