The Philippines records 1.2M international tourists in first two months of 2024

BERLIN, Germany— The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday (Mar. 5) expressed confidence in sustaining the country’s tourism gains under the Marcos administration, with international visitor arrivals to the Philippines breaching the 1.2-million mark in just a little over the first two months of 2024.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco made the announcement at the Philippine Pavillion at the Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) 2024 Convention in Berlin, Germany.

“I would like to express my profound gratitude first to all our Philippine sellers who continue to champion Philippine tourism. As of today, [March 5], the Philippines has received over 1.2 million international visitors: a robust indication of the future of Philippine tourism. Cheers to all the reasons to celebrate and Love the Philippines,” enthused Secretary Frasco as she offered a toast to the successful first day of the country’s participation in the ITB 2024.

The Philippines delegation gather for a photo opportunity at the Philippine pavilion during the Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) 2024 in Berlin, Germany
The Philippines delegation gather for a photo opportunity at the Philippine pavilion during the Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) 2024 in Berlin, Germany

Based on the DOT’s report for January to March 2024 as of March 5, international tourist arrivals to the Philippines have tallied 1,227,815.

Foreign tourist arrivals took the lion’s share, with 1,160,129 or 94.49 percent. Meanwhile, 67,686 or 5.51 percent consist of Overseas Filipinos (OFs).

According to Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, this is 22.86 percent higher than the 999,390 arrivals received by the country in the same period in 2023.

In terms of international visitor arrivals, South Korea remains the country’s top source market for visitors with 349,956 or 28.50 percent of the total, followed by the United States of America (USA) with 195,603 or 15.93 percent, China with 85,876 (6.99%), Japan with 73,159 (5.96%), and Canada landing on the fifth spot with 50,555 (4.12%).

Meanwhile, Australia took the sixth spot with 50,488 (4.11%), Taiwan with 42,955 (3.50%), United Kingdom with 30,507 (2.48%), Singapore with 25,253 (2.06%), and Germany with 20,816 (1.70%).

Notably, the DOT is also seeing an increase in terms of estimated visitor receipts.

Based on data from the Visitor Sample Survey, estimated visitor receipts for January 2024 have totaled USD 652.26 million, or 4.84 percent higher than the USD 622.14 million recorded in January 2023.

It may be recalled that in 2023, the Philippines received over 5.45 million international visitor arrivals, successfully breaching the 4.8 million arrivals target set by the industry. This year, the country has a baseline target of 7.7 million arrivals.

Love for the Philippines at the ITB 2024

The tourism chief is in Germany to lead the DOT and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines in bringing the country’s biggest delegation yet to the ITB 2024, the world’s largest travel trade show.

Close to 60 delegates composed of co-exhibitors from the public and private sector joined the delegation led by Secretary Frasco and TPB Philippines Chief Operating Officer (COO)  Margarita  Nograles, including representatives from hotel and resort enterprises, destination management companies, travel and tour agencies, government agencies such as the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), as well as the local government units of Bohol, Camiguin, Siquijor, and  Sipalay, Negros Occidental.

The Philippine pavilion, designed with local elements from mother of pearl to bamboo print weaves, hosted business-to-business (B2B) meetings of the participating sellers from 28  private companies and booth visitors from different regions of the world, ensuring that the presence of the Philippines is sustained for its various important international visitor source markets.

The spotlight was placed on the award-winning destinations of the Philippines and hidden gems from the islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, including Bohol, Siquijor, Cebu, Camiguin, and Ilocos Sur.

The Loboc Children’s Choir from Bohol and Kalumon Performers from Davao are a big hit to participants visiting the Philippine Booth at the ITB 2024.

Visitors also enjoyed the experience of wearing traditional Filipino baro’t saya created by designer Avel Bacudio while posing with the heritage city of Vigan in Ilocos Sur as backdrop.

In her speech during the opening ceremony, Secretary Frasco highlighted that the goal of the country’s participation to the international event is to give “the best foot forward for the Philippines” toward the journey of transformation, a mandate that has been given by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. in positioning the country as Asia’s next tourism powerhouse.

“This is a coming together of the entire nation to rally for the Philippines by bringing the Philippine delegation to ITB Berlin to showcase our world-renowned destinations, our emerging and key destinations, and to remind the world that the Filipino story has yet to be told through the work of our local artisans and makers, our communities, our megabiodiversity of which we are truly blessed,” the tourism chief said.

“Our presence at ITB Berlin underscores our shared commitment to elevating and expanding the demand for Philippine tourism. As one united Philippines delegation, we will showcase to the world the very best qualities of the Philippines—our distinct culture, our unique product offerings, and of course, our greatest asset—the warmth and love of the Filipino people,” she added.

Secretary Frasco noted that through the collective effort of tourism stakeholders from the private and public sectors, employment opportunities are being made available for Filipinos.

“Thank you for your never-ending belief in the potential of Philippine tourism. By your work, we are hopeful that tourism shall continue to provide livelihood and employment to our fellow Filipinos and extend opportunities all over the country,” the Secretary said as she addressed the stakeholders that make up the Philippine delegation at the ITB 2024.

Read: Kaamulan Festival: Celebrating Bukidnon’s Rich Indigenous Culture

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