By Catherine Pillas, Businessmirror, Jan. 12, 2017
The country’s hosting of several international events, such as the 65th Miss Universe, will allow the Philippines to attract 6.5 million foreign tourists this year, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Thursday.
Cesar R. Villanueva, officer in charge of the Industry Relations and Services Division at the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), has expressed optimism that the government would hit its foreign tourist-arrivals target this year.
“Based on the target of the DOT for foreign arrivals, we have 6.5 million for 2017. This is an increase from the 6 million target we had last year, when we got only 5.9 million,” Villanueva told reporters in a news briefing on the Philippine Travel Agencies Association’s (PTAA) Travel Tour Expo (TTE).
Aside from the 65th Miss Universe, the Philippines will also host Asean’s 50th founding anniversary this year. Villanueva said the government failed to meet its target of foreign tourist arrivals last year due to the typhoons that hit the country. For one, Typhoon Nina (international code name Nock-ten) forced the cancellation of nearly 200 domestic and international flights last December.
Domestic trips are also expected to improve this year. According to data from the TPB, the DOT expects domestic trips could hit 73 million this year, higher than the 70.5 million registered last year.
On the domestic front, PTAA former President and TTE Vice Chairman Marciano C. Ragaza III noted that the Filipinos’ improving purchasing power and the proliferation of cheap travel deals online would boost domestic trips.
PTAA said the top destinations for local travelers have remained the same. According to Antonio Herrera, assistant vice president for passenger sales at Philippine Airlines, these are Busuanga, Batanes, Baler, Coron and Boracay.
Japan remains the top foreign destination for Filipino travelers, PTAA President Maria Michelle Reyes-Victoria said.
The number of bookings for business travel to Davao, where President Duterte spends his weekends, spiked substantially in the latter half of 2016, according to the PTAA.
The increase in trips to Davao is expected to continue this year, as visiting dignitaries and top foreign government officials have made it a point to drop by the city when visiting the Philippines.
PTAA will hold the TTE from February 5 to 7 at the SMX Convention Center. The expo is expected to draw some 100,000 visitors looking for affordable tour and travel packages.
For the 23rd Travel Tour Expo, PTAA will be showcasing 311 exhibitors, including airlines, travel agencies and tour operators, hotels and resorts, cruise liners and theme- park operators.
Exhibitors were able to generate at least P254 million during last year’s TTE. PTAA said this figure will likely be exceeded by the 2017 edition.