MANILA, Philippines – This 2013, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is hoping the Chinese market, the 4th biggest source of tourists to the Philippines, will make a comeback and contribute to the 5.5 million tourist arrivals goal.
In 2012, the geopolitics between the Philippines and China over the disputed South China Sea (also West Philippine Sea) was among the reasons cited for missing the 4.6 million annual goal.
An unofficial ban on Chinese group travels to the Philippines contributed to the “a little less than” 300,000 shortfall for 2012, which was supposed to mark the first of the annual count toward the 10 million goal in 2016.
“We saw a snag in China arrivals,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez noted in an an ANC interview.
However, he added that “there [was] no single market where we market the Philippines where we aren’t up.” Even the number of Chinese tourists in 2012 was a little under 300,000, or higher than the over 243,000 Chinese visitors in 2011.
Tourism data showed that arrivals from January to November 2012 reached 3.83 million, up an aggregate 8.73%, or slower than the previous double-digit growth rates in some months of 2012 and 2011.
Of the 3.65 million foreign-passport holders during the first 11 months, tourists from mainland China grew by 5.36% to 233,174 visitors. China accounted for a 6.09% share, the 4th largest next to top markets: South Korea (24.07% share), United States (15%) and Japan (9.8%).
Aside from the issues dragging the China market, Jimenez highlighted the impact of economic woes traditional markets like the US and European countries are experiencing.
“The most important reason why the growth is not that significant is that the economies of the West have really been down. They’re not straying too far from home,” he said.
The year 2012 was market by the launch of the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” viral campaign, the brainchild of Jimenez, an advertising expert. He remained optimistic the Philippines will cross the 5-million mark in 2013 as his team “regroups” and “keep on working” on key markets.
Tourism Spokesman and Assistant Secretary for International Tourism promotions Benito Bengzon Jr. said in another interview that for the Philippines to achieve the 5.5 million target for 2013, “all the major markets have to grow double-digit.” – Rappler.com