2007 breakthrough year for Philippine tourism, tourism secretary says


MANILA, Philippines – The continued depreciation of the dollar has not affected the country’s tourism industry.

The year 2007 was even a year of breakthroughs for Philippine tourism, with the number of foreign arrivals breaching the three million mark, said Department of Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano last week.

“Before last year, tourists in the country only numbered 1.7 to 1.9 million,” Durano said in a press conference in Manila, adding that the department focused on tourist-rich markets in North Asia such as Korea and China.

However, Durano said that it was more important to note how tourists infused a whopping US$4.8 billion into the country’s economy in 2007.

The tourism chief said that prior to 2004, tourists only spent a total of US$2 billion in the Philippines.

“We are targeting the same markets this year, but with more emphasis on value rather than volume,” Durano said, explaining that value meant convincing tourists to spend more money and stay longer in the country.

Durano gave as an example the European market, which he described as one of the country’s best-performing markets in 2007.

“Europeans stay for two to three weeks in the country, spending more than other tourists who stay here for only a number of days,” Durano said, noting that the Russian market grew by 128 percent in 2007.

“We will be pushing for high-value tourism such as shopping and wellness services,” he added.

Durano said that for 2008, the department would be focused on the opening of new projects and properties such as hotels and infrastructure.

The DOT would also work for more direct flights to the provinces such as in Aklan and Palawan to encourage more tourists to visit the country’s “poster spots,” the tourism chief said.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer