MANILA, Philippines – More foreign tourists are expected to visit the country in the last two months of the year despite the recent travel advisories, the Department of Tourism (DOT) reported yesterday.
Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said they expect the number of foreign tourists to peak from November to December just like in past years.
“Even if we incur a slowdown in the months following the hostage-taking incident, we are optimistic that November and December figures will be on the rebound as historical peak periods,” Lim noted.
He cited DOT data showing positive growth in tourist arrivals since January to the present, with the months of July and August having the highest growth rates of 24.6 percent and 22.1 percent, respectively.
Lim added that promotional efforts have been sustained in the major international markets through attendance at significant institutional travel and consumer fairs as well as through the conduct of travel trade and media invitational programs.
Concerning the recently issued travel advisories, the tourism chief said the Philippine government has already taken precautionary measures to ensure the safety and security of the public and visitors.
“An appeal to the respective governments has been aired for the review and lifting of said advisories and over the weekend, the United Kingdom had given its clarification and hopefully, the other countries will follow given that the President himself has vowed to take up the issue in a forthcoming summit of state leaders,” Lim stressed.
He said all tourism posts worldwide are closely monitoring possible tour cancellations, but have not recorded any so far.
With the projected arrivals of tourists in the last two months of the year, Lim expressed confidence that DOT would be able to achieve its target arrival of over three million tourists by yearend.
Meanwhile, DOT is pushing for better airport facilities and construction of additional tourism-related establishments to accommodate the influx of tourists to the country.
Lim disclosed that DOT is planning to improve two of Manila’s tourism icons – Intramuros and Luneta – to make the Philippines among the top three destinations in Asia.
“From the government end, we need to drastically improve our airports, seaports and roads to make travel convenient, and emerging destinations accessible,” he said.
The DOT has also been coordinating with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police on assigning tourist police in high-density tourist areas.
Lim said his agency is also looking at reviving the fountain and bringing back cultural events at the Luneta, which is a nice place to visit not only for tourists but Filipino families as well.
Within the next few years, San Ignacio Church in Intramuros would be rebuilt and reused as a museum.
“We would like to add more life in the Walled City at night. If it is transformed and transformation is replicated in other heritage sites, we’re in business,” he said.