Foreign tourist arrivals up by over 7% in Q1 2019

Aika Rey

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Foreign tourist arrivals up by over 7% in Q1 2019
South Korea and China remain the Philippines' top source markets for foreign tourists in the 1st quarter of 2019, with a double-digit growth for China

MANILA, Philippines – More than 2.204 million foreign tourists visited the Philippines in the 1st quarter of 2019, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The figure is a 7.59% increase from the same period last year, which had 2.049 million visitors.

South Korea remains the top source market, with 519,584 Koreans visiting the Philippines from January to March this year. This figure is up by 8.91% from the 477,087 in the first 3 months of 2018.

China ranked second with 463,804 visitors coming to Philippine shores in the 1st quarter, or 24.87% more than the 371,429 in the same period last year.

The Philippines’ friendlier ties with China under the Duterte administration have drawn more Chinese tourists to the Philippines. The government is thinking of shortening the visa on arrival process for Chinese travelers.

Meanwhile, Taiwan had the highest increase in terms of arrivals, posting a 30.11% hike. In the 1st quarter of the year, 77,908 Taiwanese visitors entered the Philippines, higher than the 59,877 in the same period in 2018.

In March, there was a total of 714,309 foreign visitors who arrived in the Philippines, registering an 11.13% growth from the same month in 2018.

Meanwhile, there were 14,610 balikbayans or Philippine passport-holders living permanently overseas who came home to the country in March.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat attributed part of the growth to the reopening of Boracay in Aklan. The world-famous island was closed down for 6 months in 2018 due to environmental problems.

This year, the DOT is focusing on sustainable tourism, in a bid to promote a “premier” sustainable destination, just as the Philippine government bats for environmental compliance in tourist sites.

By the end of 2019, the government is eyeing 8.2 million tourists, as stated in the National Tourism Development Plan 2016-2022. –

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at