The country’s tourist receipts have reached PHP130 billion while arrivals climbed to more than 2.39 million, the Department of Tourism (DOT) reported Thursday.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said the easing of travel restrictions and health protocols had contributed to the high tourism revenues amounting to USD2.34 billion or PHP130.59 billion as of October 31.

Foreign travelers, meanwhile, reached 2,397,919 as of Dec. 15, 2022, the top visitors of whom are from the United States with 447,278, followed by South Korea with 374,097, Australia with 118,228, Canada with 109,041, and the United Kingdom with 90,196.

“The projections of the Department of Tourism were that we would have arrivals pegged at 1.7 million only by the end of this year. Because of the changes that have been instituted, as well as the direction of our president to prioritize tourism, we’ve seen that we now have visitor arrivals of close to 2.4 million, far exceeding projection,” Frasco told reporters in an interview.

The figures are still far from pre-pandemic levels but the DOT has high hopes the country’s destinations would drive inbound travel soon.

“Our goal is no longer to go back to pre-pandemic levels as far as international arrivals, but really to exceed it simply because of the quality of our destinations in the Philippines that far exceed many across the globe, and also because of the distinct warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people that is unique all over the world,” Frasco said.

For 2023, the DOT targets to reach at least three million to four million tourist arrivals.

“Of our international arrivals, a little over 75 percent are foreign arrivals. This means that the tourism industry, in terms of international arrivals, is well on its way. Our goal now is to further that growth by inviting our fellow Filipinos to help us in the task of increasing these tourist arrivals, having in mind the necessity for sustainable tourism in our destinations, which we’re doing closely with our local governments,” she said.

Through the newly launched Bisita Be My Guest campaign, the DOT aims to reintroduce the Philippines as a premiere tourist destination.

“Now as travel restrictions have eased, we look forward to inviting our foreign friends and guests to visit our country and to offer a wide range of culturally rich experiences along with all types of outdoor recreational activities on water and on land,” Frasco said. (PNA)

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