The Department of Tourism (DOT) has reported a 7.59 percent increase in tourist arrivals to the country in the first quarter of 2019, indicating that the country’s tourism “is on the right track.”

According to figures released by the DOT, around 2,204,564 foreign visitors arrived in the country from January to March 2019, reflecting a 7.59 percent rise from 2,049,094 over the same period last year.

“The DOT is working on enhancing our tourism products and tourism infrastructure to entice tourists to choose the Philippines as their next destination,” DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said.

South Korea remains the top source market with 519,584 tourist arrivals compared to last year’s 477,087.

The period also saw the Chinese market ranking second with 463,804 tourists, 24.87 percent higher than the previous year’s tally of 371,429. In third spot is the United States, registering 293,780 visitors, up by 3.10 percent from last year.

Taiwanese visitors posted the highest percentage increase which grew to 77,908 from 59,877 in 2018 or 30.11 percent higher than last year.

Completing the top 12 markets for the three-month period are: Japan, 177,769; Taiwan, 77,908; Australia, 73,147; Canada, 72,352; United Kingdom, 53,402; Singapore, 39,484; Malaysia, 37,651; India, 36,275; and Germany, 33,725.

For March numbers alone, the DOT reported a visitor arrival of 714,309 or an 11.13 percent growth versus the same month last year.

“Notably, France entered the top 12 for the month of March, posting 10,715 visitors, a 26.21 percent growth from last year’s March tally of 8,489 while Germany rose to 11th place with 11,075 visitors, sporting a 9 percent increase,” the DOT said.

“The DOT remains committed with its objective to establish the Philippines as a quality destination in the region.”

Germany nudged India to 13th place, with a total of 10,086, up slightly with a 1.52 percent increase as compared to last year’s 9,935.

Meanwhile, visiting Philippine passport-holders who are permanently residing abroad (not including overseas Filipino workers), otherwise known as “balikbayans,” totaled 14,610 as of March.

Romulo-Puyat attributed this growth in the number of visitors to the rehabilitated Boracay Island, which is being touted as a model of sustainable tourism development, as it continues to attract tourists since its reopening in October last year.

“Growth in the numbers of visitors is attributed to the rehabilitated Boracay Island.”

The tourism chief also credited the upward trend in tourist arrivals to the country to improved connectivity.

In her recent speech, the tourism head said the DOT remains committed with its objective to establish the Philippines as a “quality destination” in the region.

“For that, we need to be able to prioritize the following: adequate infrastructure, ease in travel facilitation, safety and security and developed tourism areas,” she said.

“To ensure that we get these done, the DOT is implementing a convergence approach where the Department works in partnership with other national government agencies,” Romulo-Puyat added.

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