Manila / DPA
Tourist arrivals reached 542,258 in January, an increase of 13.17 per cent compared to the same month last year, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.
The figure is considered a ‘historical first’ as international visitors breached the 500,000 mark.
“At the rate that the industry is growing, tourism has proven that it is an important pillar in the country?s economic development,” DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said.
On the other hand, visitor receipts, which are based on “tourism activities engaged in by the visitors,” reached 21.94 billion pesos (US$467 million).
“This rapid growth is allowing creation of decent jobs and livelihood for many Filipinos. For 2015, tourism employment was estimated at 4.99 million with a share of 12.7 per cent to national employment, already representing 4.8 perc ent growth from 2014,” Jimenez added.
The Secretary said the growth in tourism is a “successful means to spread the growth to various sectors, from the protection of the environment to the emergence of local businesses, the development of infrastructure, and the preservation of our cultural heritage.”
A breakdown of the figures showed that Koreans
remained top visitors in the country. Its 147,165 tourists contributed to 27.14 per cent of the total volume. Coming in second were visitors from the United States at 84,506 (with a share of 15.58 per cent). This was followed by China with 48,708 visitors (8.98 per cent), Japan with 41,691 (7.69 per cent) and Australia with 25,274 (4.66 per cent).
China overtook Japan for the third place, as its visitors to the Philippines increased by 130.15 per cent from January last year.
Jimenez attributed the growth to better services, infrastructure and market access.
“The convergence projects with public and private sectors have significantly improved market access and connectivity, human resource development, product development, environmental protection and, safety and security,” he said.