Tourism Attache Francisco Hilario Lardizabal at the Philippine Consulate in New York.

NEW YORK — American tourists, ranking second only to South Koreans in visitor numbers to the Philippines in 2023, led in economic contributions by injecting ₱25.46 billion into the tourism sector from 903,229 travelers.

This major financial impact, as outlined by Philippine Tourism Attache Francisco Hilario Lardizabal, emphasizes the important role that American visitors play in sustaining the economy, despite their lesser numbers when compared to other nations.

“This is 215% higher than the tourism receipts from [South] Korea. This is the importance of the American market. While the arrivals are fewer, the contribution to the revenue of tourism receipts is bigger,” Lardizabal stated on April 26 in a dialogue with journalists participating in the Friends, Partners, Allies Program.

“Americans spend [more] and stay longer,” he added.

1,439,336 visitors from South Korea arrived in the Philippines in 2023, and 903,299 came from the United States.

South Korean tourists comprised 26.41% of all foreign visits, while American tourists represented 16.57%. Japan, Australia, and China also contributed significantly to the tourism numbers, with 305,580, 266,551, and 263,836 visitors, respectively.

Lardizabal said that American travelers, the majority of whom are Fil-Ams, are primarily interested in discovering what’s new in the Philippines. They often begin by exploring their ancestral provinces before venturing to other planned destinations and attractions across the country.

According to data from the Department of Tourism (DOT), approximately 55.71% of arrivals from the U.S. are “former pilgrims.”

These individuals are Filipino-Americans who have previously left the Philippines but are returning to reconnect with their families, relatives, and explore various tourism destinations across the country.

“The other 4% are non-former pilgrims. So, to answer your question, we will distinguish. Those who are former pilgrims, of course, are being motivated. They have friends and relatives. And what they are looking for is, what [changed] in the Philippines [since] I left? Because that is what they want to see,” he said.

Lardizabal also disclosed that American travelers, when visiting the Philippines, seek amenities that provide comfort, such as familiar foods, hot showers, air conditioning, and immersive dining experiences that enrich their cultural encounters.

Baby boomers and Gen Xers generally prefer leisurely beach vacations or engaging in “soft adventures” that offer relaxation without requiring extensive physical activity. In contrast, Millennials and Generation Z tend to seek out more dynamic and adventurous experiences, showing a greater appetite for exploration and physical challenges.

“In fact, some would even want to venture on going to the distillery, or knowing, or even having culinary experience by learning how to cook it. So, in a nation, okay, in general, they are looking for nature and adventure,” he said.

Lardizabal suggested that the Philippines’ tourism promotions should focus on attracting affluent American travelers and also consider what they seek in a destination to ensure their continued visits.

Overall, he noted that the Philippines appeals to American travelers because it offers unique adventures, natural beauty, rich cultural experiences, warm hospitality, and excellent value for their travel experience.

This year, the country sets its sights on a 15% increase in American tourist arrivals, surpassing the 903,229 visitors it hosted in 2023.

To achieve this goal, efforts will focus on engaging the travel trade through various events and directly targeting consumers.