ILOILO CITY, Iloilo—Cebu has become the country’s top tourist destination based on tourist arrivals, according to the Department of Tourism.
The province led 14 other key tourist destinations in the country, including the world-famous Boracay Island in tourist arrivals from January to March.
Data from the DOT on tourist arrivals for the first quarter showed that 422,239 tourists went to Cebu, nearly 3 percent higher than the 410,597 tourists who went to the province during the same period last year.
Boracay was second with 158,030 arrivals, followed by Davao City (156,468), Camarines Sur (140,220), Zambales (88,718), and Bohol (71,876).
The increase reflected the growth in over-all tourist arrivals in the country during the period, reaching 10.33 percent or a total of 1.3 million from last year’s 1.1 million, the DOT said.
Cebu was also the most frequently visited destination by foreign tourists with 184,790 arrivals, or drawing nearly half of the 383,608 foreign tourists who visited the country. It was followed by Boracay (63,903), Zambales (25,252), Camarines Sur (24,976), and Bohol (24,350).
Overall, the volume of domestic tourists visiting key destinations grew faster at 13 percent while, foreign arrivals recorded a 4-percent increase in the first quarter.
Eduardo Jarque, tourism undersecretary for planning and promotions, credited the rise of tourist arrivals in the regions, especially Cebu, to more and cheaper direct flights, and better infrastructure, including hotels, pensions houses, and ancestral homes to accommodate tourists.
“Manila has become a stopover for leisure travelers who proceed to the regions like Cebu,” Jarque told the Inquirer in a phone interview on Sunday.
He said it has developed into a lifestyle for expatriates and other tourists to head to the provinces and beaches for a vacation.
Cebu has become a center of the tourism upswing because it combines a rich historical backdrop, modern infrastructure, and varied destinations, according to Jarque.
But, he said, tourist arrivals on Boracay continue to grow with more hotel rooms needed because the existing hotels are always fully booked.
“Among island resorts, Boracay remains the top tourist drawer with tourist arrivals growing by an average of 6 percent annually for the past decade,” said Edwin Trompeta, tourism director of Western Visayas.