5:14 am | Thursday, November 7th, 2013
LONDON—Foreign tourist arrivals to the Philippines reached a little over 3.8 million in the first nine months of the year, moving closer to the full-year target of five million visitors this year, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said.
Europe, which currently contributes at least 10 percent of foreign tourist arrivals, is seen boosting its share especially as flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has started flying back to the continent after a 15-year absence.
In an interview at the sidelines of a reception held here to toast the opening of PAL’s nonstop flights between Manila and London (via Heathrow airport), Jimenez said he was optimistic that more European visitors would come to the Philippines.
“Europe has been underperforming because there were limitations before,” Jimenez said, noting previous limitations on flight connectivity as well as nonportability of insurance when the blacklist on Philippine carriers in the European Union was in effect.
But with all these concerns addressed, Jimenez said more European travelers could come to the Philippines, thereby boosting tourism receipts as European visitors typically spend more daily and stay longer.
On average, he said a European visitor spends much more for each day of stay in the Philippines and stays for at least eight days to as long as 16 days. This means that if more European travelers come to the Philippines, the nature and quality of tourist receipts would improve, he said.
At present, the United Kingdom accounts for about 120,000 tourist arrivals to the Philippines annually while Germany accounts for 100,000, he said. These include Filipinos who have acquired citizenship elsewhere and are using foreign passports.
From January to September this year, he said the latest count of foreign tourist arrivals to the Philippines was about 3.8 million, an increase of about 20 percent over the 3.15 million foreign visitors in the same period last year.
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