Philippines breaches 4.8M international visitor arrivals- DOT Chief

Manila, Philippines—The Philippines has breached its target of 4.8 million international visitor arrivals before yearend, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco announced Tuesday (Nov. 28).

The tourism chief shared the good news during the DOT’s 1st Philippine Golf Tourism Summit held at Grand Hyatt Manila that gathered tourism and golf industry leaders and stakeholders to engage in convergence with the government to explore and expand the full potential of the Philippine golf tourism industry.

As of November 27, 2023, the country has registered a total of 4,822,530 million visitors who visited the country, with foreign tourists still comprising the bulk of arrivals by 91.88 percent or 4,430,725, while the remaining 8.12 percent or 391,805 are returning overseas Filipinos.

Specifically, South Korea remains the country’s top source market for foreign arrivals which brought in 1,271,602 tourists or 26.37 percent of the total, followed by the United States of America (USA) with 797,181 (16.53 percent), Japan with 272,735 (5.66 percent), China with 242,107 (5.02 percent), and Australia with 225,464 (4.68 percent) to complete the top five.

The Secretary emphasized that the support of the Marcos Administration for the DOT has been very instrumental in translating the targets into achievements.

“The Department of Tourism targeted 4.8 million international arrivals by the end of 2023. We have now welcomed over 4.82 million international visitors, contributing an impressive PHP404 billion in foreign visitor receipts to date underscoring the value of tourism to our economy. As our President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has emphasized, tourism is a foundational pillar for the country’s inclusive growth and economic revival. Tourism continues to drive growth and provide income and jobs nationwide. With the implementation of the National Tourism Development Plan 2023 to 2028 approved by President Marcos, we are beginning to see the merits of our strategies towards increasing connectivity, convenience, and equality in tourism development and promotions, as well as the invaluable partnership of our tourism stakeholders in the private sector,” the tourism chief said.

“I am happy to share with you the report of our national economic managers that manifests that Philippine tourism is the second highest driver of economic growth for the Philippines. This cements our position as one of the strongest pillars of the Philippine economy that employs no less than 5.35 million Filipinos in the tourism industry sector, ensuring jobs, livelihood, and the well-being of communities all over the country,” she added.

The liberalization of visa policies, the building of tourist rest areas, the establishment of the first ever multi-platform tourist call center, the construction of tourism roads, the development of cruise, education, medical, gastronomy, and sports tourism, expansion of dive tourism, and heritage and cultural tourism caravans and all other initiatives that have been lobbied by the DOT to attract visitors also contributed to these achievements, according to the Secretary.


Tapping the full potential of Golf Tourism

With the DOT also positioning the Philippines as a global hub for sports tourism, including golf, the tourism chief said that the time is now for the government and private sector to work together.

“Today marks the Philippines’ long overdue foray into the multi-billion golf tourism industry that will no doubt have an enormous impact on the Philippine economy. And it’s about time that the government and the private sector come together to converge and to collaborate,” she said.

Currently, the Philippines has over 100 golf courses spread across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, with Santa Barbara Golf Course in Iloilo Province deemed as the oldest, which was built in 1907, thus, making the country a home to one of the oldest golf courses in Asia.

“Golf tourism represents a promising frontier for the Philippines and this summit highlights our proactive approach in understanding, nurturing, listening to the golf tourism industry and developing this niche as part of our tourism industry portfolio,” Secretary Frasco said.

“We are hopeful that this first Philippine Golf Tourism Summit can be a catalyst and serve as a platform to gather insights, recommendations, and concerns, paving the way for informed decisions and strategies as well as a unified national government tourism policy towards golf tourism that can be aligned with our local government units all over the country,” she concluded.

Panelists of the summit included Business Mirror Golf Editor Mike Besa who discussed “The Potential of Golf Tourism”; Outlast Sports and Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Salauddin SS who shared “The Right Market”; and Philippine Tour Operator Association (PHILTOA) President Fe Abling-Yu who discussed “First Tee With the Tourism Industry”; and Lipa, Batangas Vice Governor and founder of Golf Batangas Mark Leviste.

The summit was organized by the DOT’s Office of Product Development of Golf Tourism and Special Projects.

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