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Domestic tourism continues to rise from the pandemic slump with local trips in 2021 reaching 37.27 million.

Based on the latest data presented by the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday, these figures are 38.16 percent higher than the 26.98 million recorded in 2020.

While domestic travel is slowly picking up, the figures are still way below 2019 levels, when about 122.1 million local tourists toured around the country.

Meanwhile, foreign visitor arrival was at its lowest in 2021 considering borders were completely closed for leisure travelers.

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Director Warner Andrada of DOT-Tourism Development Planning, Research and Information Management said 163,879 foreigners entered the country in 2021, down by 88.95 percent from the 1.48 million recorded in 2020.

Still, the highest number of inbound travelers since the start of the pandemic until the end of 2021 was logged in December last year at 24,353.

“Arrivals exhibited a positive trend from May to December 2021 as the Philippines gradually permitted inbound flights. More Filipino citizens, their foreign spouses and children, permanent residents, and diplomatic visa holders were welcomed into the country,” Andrada said.

The lowest number recorded since the pandemic-driven lockdown was imposed in mid-March 2020 was in April at 948, with the highest tally in December at only 19,793.

Visitor receipts in 2021 likewise dipped to PHP8.49 billion from PHP82.24 billion in 2020.

Acting Tourism Secretary Edwin Enrile acknowledged that “there is still so much more work to do” as the country slowly recuperates from the effects of the pandemic.

DOT Undersecretary Woodrow Maquiling Jr. said the DOT will exert extra efforts to sustain what he described as the “renewed” confidence in travel.

“I know for certain that we can do so much more in driving a tourism industry that is more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable,” he said. (PNA)

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