Philippine tourism never had it so good in 2009. In a 2009 year-end report by Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, late Friday, he said total tourist traffic in the top 14 destinations last year reached 8.9 million for a 14 percent growth.
Durano attributed this feat to the combined efforts of the DOT, the private sector, local government units and other stakeholders to continually diversify the tourism products, increase accommodation and transport capacities, and upgrade existing tourism services.
Cebu is the top destination with tourist traffic increasing by 1.2 percent to 1.61 million. Korea remained the top tourist market for Cebu accounting for 29 percent share of total foreign tourists.
Notably, Chinese tourists to Cebu remarkably grew by 70 percent as more charter flights were mounted between Cebu and Shanghai, as well as to Guangzhou.
A hefty growth in tourists from Kuwait was also recorded as students from the said markets streamed to Cebu for short-educational programs.
More than the expansion in international and domestic flight frequencies to Cebu, from major tourist markets and destinations in Central Philippines, accommodations also increased as 804 new rooms opened in 2009.
This included the 3.18 billion Imperial Palace Water Park, esort and Spa (567 rooms), Citi Park Hotel (105 rooms), Alpa City Suites (84 rooms), Oftana Suites (24 rooms), and Grand Terra Suite (24 rooms).
Innovative and young entrepreneurs also prepped up existing tour packages in Cebu and nearby destination. The Island Banca Cruises attracted foreign and local visitors with its organized and uniquely packaged island hopping tour experiences of the marine sanctuaries of Nalusuan and Gilutungan, the pristine white beach of Pandanon and dive sites of Moalboal.
Existing heritage tour has also been enhanced to allow tourist to experience a different cultural and historical aspect of Cebu.
Tourists to Camarines Sur (CamSur) increased by 117.2 percent to 1.57 million vis-à-vis, the previous year volume of 721,024 visitors.
International and local events such as the First Aqua Fest Celebrity Challenge, Ironman 70.3 Triathlon, International Dragon Boat Competition and Bagasbas Summer Surf, boosted domestic visitors to CamSur by 140 percent to 1.3 million, while foreign tourists went up by 56.1 percent.
Tourists from Australia and the United Kingdom to CamSur substantially increased by 235 percent and 170 percent respectively, as wakeboarding attracted group tours from these markets.
The USA remained the major source market for CamSur with 14 percent share.
The influx of tourists in Camarines Sur has also expanded room capacity to date in its different municipalities, namely: Naga (1,082 rooms), Pasacao (303 rooms), Pili (289 rooms),Caramoan (208 rooms), San Jose (99 rooms), Nabua (81 rooms), Sagnay (68 rooms), Iriga (67 rooms), Buhi (44 rooms), and Tigaon (43 rooms).
These facilities range from high-end tourist accommodation to small lodging establishments.
Metro Manila is the third most visited destination with tourist volume of 1.4 million, accounting for 16 percent of the total tourist count.
The opening of 1,056 new hotel rooms in Metro Manila during the year gave impetus for the hefty growth in tourist movement. Among the new facilities which opened are: Newport Marriott Hotel (342 rooms), Oakwood Premiere Joy-Nostalg Center (232 rooms), Maxims Hotel (178 rooms), and The Picasso Serviced Residences (136 rooms).
The development of new tourism products in Metro Manila have likewise strengthened its promotion as a must-see destination for heritage and culture tours; shopping and entertainment; incentives, conventions and meetings; and cruise packages. (PNA)