RP tourism receipts hit $1.87b in 1st half

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The Philippine economy generated $1.87 billion in tourism receipts from more than 1.6 million international visitor arrivals in the first half of 2008, the Tourism Department reported yesterday.

Tourism Secretary Ace Durano told a news briefing at the department’s main office in Manila that the figure was on top of revenues from medical tourism and English as secondary language training designed for foreigners.

“Despite greater challenges in global economy, we have achieved a respectable growth rate in tourist arrivals and we are set to sustain this growth through the rest of the year,” Durano said.

Data from the Tourism Research and Statistics Division showed that tourist arrivals rose 6.9 percent year-on-year to 1.634 million in the January-June period.

Arrivals in June were up 4.4 percent to 261,207, on the back of double-digit increase in the number of guests from China, Taiwan and Europe.

Durano said the first-half figure represented 48 percent of their target of 3.5 million arrivals for the whole year.

He said the tourism industry was well on its way to hit at least an 8 percent growth in visitor volume by the end of 2008, with the expected strong performance in the second half.

Durano said the department was focusing on promotion in 24 markets, given its limited budget of only $20 million for campaign, compared with over $100 million in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Top sources of foreign tourists in the country remained Korea, the United States and Japan.

The Koreans and Americans provided the biggest share of the total foreign exchange earnings at 27 percent and 26 percent, respectively. Expenditures from France, Italy, Spain, Russia and the Scandinavian countries posted a double-digit growth.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas earlier said tourism receipts was boosting the country’s balance of payments.

The World Tourism Organization earlier said it expected growth in global tourism to slow through the rest of the year amid global economic uncertainties.

The World Travel and Tourism Council, meanwhile, said tourism in the Philippines would directly contribute P285 billion, or 3.9 percent to the gross domestic product in 2008, and support employment of 1.377 million individuals, representing 4.0 percent of total labor force.