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The Department of Tourism (DOT) is confident that the country will meet its 8.2-million targeted foreign tourist arrivals by the end of 2019, citing the already high numbers of visitors for the first nine months of the year.

“Ang ganda ng mga reports na natatanggap namin that’s why we’re confident that we can reach 8.2 million (We’re receiving good reports that’s why we’re confident that we can reach the 8.2 million),” DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said in a briefing on Monday.

“For the first nine months, January to September, we’re already at 6.16 million foreign visitors, which is already a record in itself. The growth rate is about 14.37 percent so the common question is if we will reach 8.2 million. At present, we’re looking at the movement of the October and November arrivals,” he added.

Bengzon attributed the growth in foreign arrivals to the increase in new flights and newly constructed airports, which he said spread the air passenger traffic to other Philippine destinations.

“Marami na tayong flights hindi lang papunta ng Manila pero pati Cebu, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa so in a way nadi-disperse natin ‘yong air passenger traffic. In so doing, siyempre mas maraming nakikinabang with the local communities (There are already a lot of flights not only to Manila but also Cebu, Kalibo, and Puerto Princesa so in a way the air passenger traffic is dispersed. In doing so, of course, more local communities benefit,” he added.

According to the latest data released by the DOT, the Philippines received a total of 6,161,503 visitors from January to September 2019, indicating a 14.37 percent increase from the 5,387,458 arrivals for the same period last year.

For the first nine months, South Korea remained as the country’s top tourist market with a total of 1,450,792 arrivals, followed by China with 1,359,817 and the United States with 792,619 visitor arrivals.

Data released by Bengzon during the briefing also showed that the highest spending market for the same period was also South Korea with about USD193.55 million in total tourist spending followed by China with a total expenditure of USD163.61 million and the US with USD77.99 million.

From January to September 2019, the total earnings generated from tourism activities in the Philippines aggregated to about USD7.29 billion or approximately PHP379.21 billion, 25.66 percent higher than the visitor receipts in the same period last year amounting to USD5.80 billion or PHP305.42 billion.