PH tourist arrivals reach 2.14M in first quarter of 2012

By Nikka Garriga

MANILA CITY, METRO MANILA--The Department of Tourism (DoT) noted another increase in the number of foreign visitor for this year’s first quarter.

Around 2.14 million tourists arrived in the country for the first semester or 11.68 percent higher compared to last year’s 1,919,400.

All key markets registered a positive growth with Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan and the US maintaining their post as the country’s top tourist generators.

Korea shares 22.15 percent of the total volume and posted a 10.50-percent growth, while the US market registered 16.53 percent or a 4.80-percent increase from last year’s figures.

Overseas Filipinos, meanwhile, supplied 110,703 of the total tourist traffic recording a steady 4.46-percent growth.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez is positive that the government will meet its 4.6-million visitors year-end target in light of the current policy reforms, infrastructure development and product enhancements helping facilitate tourist entries.

“The Philippine tourism industry is beginning to enjoy an international renaissance, which has the capacity to propel the country into one of the region’s best performers over the next decade,” he said.

“With P1.99 trillion projected receipts by 2016, we can look forward to seeing tourism become not just an economic activity, but an entire industry driving inclusive and sustained growth in the country.”

The country has been gaining global exposure and affirming its status as a must-see destination.

Just recently, Travel + Leisure Magazine named Boracay as the “World's Best Island” for 2012 beating Greece's Santorini at the top spot.

Ariara Island, a luxurious private island resort in Calamian, Palawan, also ranked first in the Top 100 holiday destinations of Vogue-UK Magazine's August 2012 issue.

In a related development, the DoT and other government agencies are working on the institutionalization of the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA).

The initiative seeks to boost the global competitiveness of the country's tourism sector, allowing the development of improved regulations based on best practice principles and international norms.

One of the RIA system's key features is it establishes the Office of Best Regulatory Practice which will propose and review regulations, as well as train government personnel involved in business regulations.

The RIA will also be used to help determine tourism enterprise zones and strengthen coordination between the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zones Authority (TIEZA) and other related departments.

“Tourism is about selling the whole country--its attractions, services, culture, and people.  This initiative is one with our campaign in cultivating a culture of competitiveness and establishing the Philippines as a challenger brand in the region,” Jimenez said.

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