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Miss U, ASEAN Summit tide PH tourism over in 2017

Despite setbacks and challenges, the Philippine tourism industry still managed to breach past figures in 2017.

Thanks to the country's hosting of two major of events this year -- the Miss Universe 2016 in January and the 31st Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in time for the bloc's 50th anniversary in November -- more foreigners came over.

As per latest data from the DOT, the country reached a total of 5,474,310 international arrivals for the first 10 months of 2017, an 11.54-percent increase from 4,908,017 in the same period in 2016.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said the country's hosting of the Miss Universe pageant at the start of the year had "increased tourists' awareness that the Philippines is a beautiful country."

When some contestants of the Miss Universe 2017 came to the country in December, the promotion of a number of landmarks in the Philippines intensified, according to Teo.

Teo told PNA at the launch of a Go Lokal store in Parañaque City the shooting incident at the Resorts World Manila in June and the five-month-long terrorist siege in Marawi City in Mindanao were the two biggest challenges to the country's tourism industry.

"We're doing better in spite of the martial law. In spite of the Marawi incident, the Resorts World, tourist arrivals are still higher than last year's," she said.

Teo said South Koreans remain the country’s top visitor market with 1,332,141 arrivals, representing 24.33 percent of the total arrivals, followed by China with 810,807 arrivals, accounting for 14.81 percent.

The United States dropped to third place with 785,269 or 14.34 percent arrivals.

Japan had 490,857 or 8.97 percent of the total, while Australia contributed 206,443 or 3.77 percent.

“With the surge in Chinese and Indian arrivals, we are optimistic we'll hit the target of at least 6.5 million as set by the National Tourism Development Plan for ‎‎2017-2022," Teo said.

Compared with last year’s figures for the same period, Chinese arrivals jumped 39.28 percent, while India visitors rose 20.28 percent.

Revenue-wise, the Philippine tourism industry fared well, with visitor receipts registering a double-digit gain of 36.28 percent or PHP243.23 billion in the first nine months of 2017. In 2016, the Department of Tourism realized PHP178-billion earnings for the same period.

“The department will continue its aggressive marketing efforts, including through social media. We will promote emerging or developing destinations to entice more visitors from across the globe,” said the DOT chief.

Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA