Philippine tourism

Philippines launches tourist call center, welcomes 4 million visitors

Lance Spencer Yu

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Philippines launches tourist call center, welcomes 4 million visitors

CALL CENTER. Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco tries out the newly launched Tourist Assistance Call Center.

Department of Tourism

Tourists can now connect with live agents through landline, mobile, or chat and click-to-call functions on the Department of Tourism's website

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) launched its “first-ever” Tourist Assistance Call Center, days after the Philippines surpassed the 4-million mark for international arrivals.

The Tourist Assistance Call Center will operate 24/7 and will connect tourists with a live agent who can provide information on the following:

  • Tourism complaints
  • Local and destination policy inquiries
  • Modes of transportation
  • Accommodations
  • Travel agencies, tour operators, and tour guides
  • Safety protocols and emergency asisstance
  • Nearest establishments, landmarks, and other locational or logistical questions
  • Event-specific information such as information about festivals and other cultural events

“Notably, the call center will be handled not by artificial intelligence, but by living, breathing Filipinos who share with us the vision of enhancing the tourism experience in the country,” Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said on Monday, October 2.

Tourists can reach the Tourist Assistance Call Center by calling 151-TOUR for landline or +63995-835-5155 for mobile. They can access the web chat or click-to-call function through and They may also contact the DOT via email at or via Facebook Messenger at

Currently, there are eight dedicated call center agents from service provider Universal Access & Systems Solutions. This could grow “as the need arises,” Frasco said. The DOT may also add “foreign language-trained” agents in the months to come.

More than 4 million tourists

According to Frasco, the launch of the call center will help the DOT to reach its goal of welcoming 4.8 million international arrivals in 2023.

“What we seek are satisfied tourists and repeat customers,” the tourism secretary told Rappler. “We’re optimistic that we can exceed [4.8 million].”

Just days ago on Friday, September 29, the DOT recorded more than 4 million international visitors in the Philippines so far in 2023. Based on the department’s data, about 3.6 million were foreigners while about 337,000 were overseas Filipinos.

About a fourth of these international arrivals – or more than 1 million – came from South Korea. The United States and Japan also remained significant tourist markets.

Visitors from China have also begun picking up in number, with more than 190,000 visiting the Philippines so far in 2023. Before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered borders, China seemed on track to outpace South Korea as the country’s top tourist market. (READ: How Chinese visitors could boost Philippine tourism in pandemic’s wake)

This resurgence in travel may keep the DOT on target to meet its goal of 4.8 million tourists in 2023. So far, this has translated to P316 billion in visitor receipts.

While the rising numbers are encouraging, the Philippines is still far from its pre-pandemic tourism levels. For instance, even if the DOT achieves its 4.8 million target, it still won’t reach 60% of the international arrivals it had in 2019.

In fact, the tourism sector may not fully recover until 2025, DOT Undersecretary Shereen Gail Yu-Pamintuan told Rappler.

“It’s a global forecast made by the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization),” Pamintuan told Rappler. “Our numbers are really good, so hopefully we can recover earlier.” –

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.