Tourism chief Puyat looking beyond Boracay.

DOT aims for 8.2M foreign arrivals this year

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that the tourism agency is “very confident” that they will reach this year’s target.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is setting its sights on 8.2 million foreign tourist arrivals this year, buoyed by the industry’s strong performance in 2018 despite the closure of Boracay island for six months.

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that the tourism agency is “very confident” that they will reach this year’s target.

“We’re actually confident that we’re going to reach it because every year there’s a 15% increase ,” Puyat said.

She pointed out that even with the six-month closure of Boracay, tourist arrivals rose 6.6%, from 6.6 million in 2017 to 7.1 million in 2018.

“Even with the closure of Boracay, people discovered alternative destinations. It actually was a blessing in disguise because people realized that there are other places to go to in the Philippines not only in Boracay,” Puyat said.

Arrivals to so-called secondary destinations like Siargao, La Union and Bicol were up, according to tour operators. 

Puyat also said that the opening of an international airport in Bohol, and a new international passenger terminal at the Mactan Cebu International Airport also helped prop up arrivals last year.

She said Korean nationals continued to be the top foreign tourism market for the country. And a declaration by Seoul’s top diplomat in Manila provided some encouraging news for the industry.

South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-Man vowed last month to bring in two million Korean tourists to the country this year.

“Recently, I met President (Rodrigo) Duterte and I made a promise to bring two million Korean tourists to this country,” Han said.

The diplomat was in Iloilo province last month to attend the Dinagyang festival, one of the country’s most popular annual events.


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